Fiction from Israel
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To say that Yosi liked his job was to miss the point. He was his job. He had no other identity, no other existence. His was an obsession that his superiors marveled at (and slightly feared) and rewarded with the appropriate promotions of rank and pay, but in the eyes of the general public gave the tax department a very aggressive reputation. Yosi took things personally. That is, he considered the suspect he was investigating as if he had personally wronged him and that he was honor bound to revenge himself. Mendel, Yosi's boss,had learned to be selective about which cases he assigned to him. This was largely due to a particular nasty case of over enthusiasm that had brought down the wrath of the Supreme Court on Mendel and had led to a lot of official reprimands and the shelling out of compensation to the victim. Mendel, more or less, used Yosi like a Russian wolf hound that he would let lose on particularly dangerous or difficult offenders. That generally meant Arabs or Haradim.
Yosi wasn't sure which group he hated more. The Arabs had killed his men in two different wars. In the first he had been a lieutenant and in the second a captain. As was his nature, each battle loss was a personal loss that had to be avenged. Also, no matter what he did he felt that he hadn't done enough. So now, every time he went after an Arab, he felt that he was also partly avenging the deaths of his men. There was often violence and unlike the other men in his unit he looked forward to it. He had enormous enjoyment when he could smash-in the face of some Arab shopkeeper that came at him with an ax or club. Very few people were a match for his battle harden reflexes and the hours each day he spent working-out and practicing karate.
The Haradim were another story. Except for official business, he never had any contact with them nor did he see any reason to change the relationship. On the rare occasions when there was violence, it was group violence. Unlike the Arabs, the Haradim he went after never attacked him or any of his men directly. It was always a group waiting outside or around the corner or on the roof tops. Usually, they threw garbage or rocks. Most of the time no one was hurt but there were times when an inspector or two wound up in the hospital. It wasn't their cowardice that bothered him, it was their very existence that enraged him. That this group of superstitious, throwbacks to the dark ages, parading around in their clown suits, should exit at all in his country, offended Yosi most fundamental sense of rightness. There just should not be any such creatures around any more. Not after he and so many others had worked and fought so hard to establish a modern state free of all the old nonsense of religion. But there they were and he hated them for it. Arik's betrayal hadn't help matters either.
Arik the traitor, Arik the back-staber; that is how he thought of him now. Once it had been Arik, the young guy with guts, with promise. Arik the kibbutznik. Arik, who after five years as a paratrooper, one year as a backpacker and a final four years as an university student, wound up in Yosi's tax busters unit. He use to quip that the only difference between the kibbutz and the tax department was the direction the crap flew. On the kibbutz he use to shovel it out of the cow sheds, in his office he got it shoveled at him by the public. Arik, Arik, Arik what had happened to him? Yosi could never understand.
One day he showed up to work wearing a Kippa, a black Kippa at that. Yosi figured that he must have come back from a surveillance. But when it stayed on his head, he began to feel uncomfortable. Eventually, Yosi confronted him: "Arik, take that rag off your head, you look ridiculous!" His answer had at first stunned him and then thrown him into a white rage. "It's O.K.,Yosi, I've become religious."
"YOU'VE WHAT!" Yosi screamed and then went into what seemed to those who heard it, a series of invectives that were both unrepeated and unrepeatable. Everyone assumed that had Mendel not appeared on the scene almost immediately, there would have been a fight. It was any ones guess who would have won.
After a week of screaming threats and counter threats at each other, Mendel finally convinced Arik to accept a promotion as the head of a unit in the territories. But Yosi could never accept the 'betrayal.' Arik became, Arik the traitor.
Yosi went to personnel and pulled out all the records on his men. He also got hold of Arik's file before it was transferred. A dozen times he went over everything trying to figure-out what happened to Arik. How did they get to him. Where was the weakness. Were there any other of his men at risk. Over and over he checked. After two weeks of it Mendel called him into his office.
"Yosi, you've got to stop this. Three weeks, three weeks Yosi, it's enough. Drop it! That an order!" Mendel told him.
"How can I drop it?" Yosi protested. "If it could happen to Arik, it could happen to one of my other men!"
"So what!" answered Mendel. "Being religious or becoming religious is not a crime in Israel. But not paying taxes is. Our job, your job, is to catch tax dodgers, not religious zealots. So let's get back to our real work, O.K.?"
"O.K." Yosi answered, and left Mendels office.
But it wasn't O.K.....
Time and work are great healers. Once Yosi got back into his routine he forgot about the whole Arik event. The joy of the hunt was upon him and he had the feeling that he was about to bag a good one. His main stinker (informer) in the Haradi neighborhood of Me'ah Sharim had told him about a new group of soferim (ritual scribes) that had been operating for almost half a year. As usual, the gang (that how he thought of them) had not bothered to register with the tax authorities. By now they must have a pretty good cash flow going and since no one had bothered them, yet, they probably have the cash either where they work or in one of their homes. That's how it usually goes.
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The gang of four had been under surveillance for almost two weeks and Yosi knew where their workshop was and where each of them lived. He had a couple of good photos of each of them, including two of Fatso (the guy that sold the Mezuzot for them) handing a shopkeeper a bundle of Mezuzot and getting payed a stack of dollars. Before going after the shopkeeper, he'd see if he could get him to work for him as a stinker. A few more never hurt.
Yosi liked to give each of his suspects nicknames. He remembered them better that way. So a rotund, slightly taller than average suspect that hid his bulk under a loose, black frock became Fatso. A psoriasis studded one became Pimples. The one with the big nose was called Banana. And, of course. the one with the beard halfway down to his belt -the Beard. So there they were, all of them in front of Yosi, Fatso, Pimples, Banana, and the Beard, or at least for now, their pictures. Had Yosi and his men possessed the capacity for retrospection, they might have also realized that the nicknames helped them dehumanize their suspects, gave them the psychological distance they needed to go after them. But none of them ever discussed such issues.
As a mater of unofficial policy, they never talked about anything that did not relate directly to a case. The men in the other units would discuss sports, women, politics and all the usual topics. Not in Yosi's. He set the tone and the tone was official business only. It gave his men a sense of superiority over the other units. They were above it all. Only important things mattered to them. It also left them cold and almost indifferent to each other. From the intelligence his stinker gave him, Yosi was pretty sure that Fatso would be taking another batch of Mezuzot around for sale next Wednesday. He generally finished at 1:00 when the stores closed, then headed back to their workshop with the money. Banana, Pimples, and the Beard would be waiting for him there. They would divide up the profits and then go home for lunch. Probably, they would all leave between 1:15 and 1:30. So there was about fifteen minutes to grab them with the dollars while they were still in the workshop. This would give him more than enough evidence for a conviction. He planned to go in at 1:07.
At 12:30 the shuk in Me'ah Sharim is always crowded. Another five men wearing black kippoth and crumpled suits drew no ones attention. Yosi knew the small shuk well. Even the apartment-workshop was familiar to him. This was the third time he was raiding it. The size, location and rental made it ideal for small production. The last time, about two years ago, it had been a Tefillin factory. Five years before that, a different group of soferim had used it. The owner was a wealthy lawyer who lived in secular splendor in Ramat Aviv. He had inherited the property from his parents who had lived in it in religious poverty from the day they were married until the week they both died in it. His mother passed away first. She was well into her eighties. His father died two days latter and only a week before his ninetieth birthday.
Would the lawyer-son live as long as his parents? Did lawyer deserve to live so long? He had defended the two previous cases and Yosi wondered if he would also defend this new gang. This lawyer-apartment owner got all of them suspended sentences and reduced fines. He also wondered if that was part of the deal for the apartment. Rent apartment,get lawyer. Or maybe he was just related in one way or another to the people who rented from him. A lot of disjointed thought were going through Yosi's head while he waited.
At 1:02 Yosi saw Fatso enter the stairwell leading to the apartment. His men also saw him and moved into their positions. Rafi would go with him into the apartment for the actual bust. Itzik would wait in the stairwell as a backup and liaison with Dudu and Izzy. Dudu and Izzy stayed outside keeping an eye out for the possibility of an angry mob forming. Since the main danger was always from a mob, the strategy was to move quickly. Seize the suspect or suspects, the money and any other pertinent material evidence and get out as fast as possible before any of the neighbors could help. Only under the most dangerous conditions would Yosi agree to police or army help. He just couldn't tolerate 'outsiders' getting involved in his affairs.
At 1:07 Yosi knocked on the door to the apartment. Rafi stood to the side so that he couldn't be seen from the door. The knock was a normal, unhurried one that was intended to bring a response and not suspicion. After a short time someone answered.
"Who is it?"
"It's Yosi, I've got to see Shemulik." (Fatso's real name.) "There are some big questions about the Mezuzot he just sold."
"Questions about our Mezuzot." The door answered as it opened, revealing the Beard standing in the entrance to the apartment. "How could there be questions about our Mezuzot. We check each one four times. I'm telling you that they are all Kosher, Mehudar not just Kosher!"
Yosi stepped into the apartment standing with his shoulder against the door to prevent it from being closed. Rafi then moved around him into the hallway. Almost as soon as Rafi got in, he saw the other three siting at a table. The table was covered with dollar bills. He quickly moved towards the table. With his left hand he pulled out his I.D. from his back pocket and with his right reached into his front pocket and whipped out a plastic shopping bag.
"Tax inspectors. All of you are in violation of foreign currency regulations." As Rafi spoke, he threw his I.D. on the table and quickly swept most of the money into his shopping bag. When he came to the last stack of cash, it was piled in front of Pimples. Rafi grabbed the money and was about to put it in the shopping bag when Pimples shouted; "Hey, hey stop that! That's my money!"
Rafi responded by saying, "Really? That's good. I'll count it for you." He then counted out the cash. "Three Thousand and five hundred dollars. Right?" Pimples nodded his head in agreement. "All right now, I'll give you a receipt." He reached into the left, inside pocket of his jacket and took out a receipt book and began to fill in the details.
"Now let's see. Name? That's Chaim Whitefish. Right?" Rafi continued telling him all of his personal details; state identity number, address, phone number, date of birth, all of it. When the form was filled, Rafi,smiling, handed him the bottom of the three copies. "Don't lose it."
The effect this had on the others was to deepen their panic and fear. If this tax inspector knew all about Chaim (aka. Pimples) then he knew the names and details of all of them. Dovik, the Beard, tried to speak but nothing came out. This gave him a fish like appearance. Zvika, Banana, began to sweat and chew the nail of his left fore finger.
Yosi surveyed the situation and felt elated. All of them were in total shock, they were totally under his control. In another moment he would march them out of the apartment and into the van waiting just outside the shuk, or so he thought. Shemulik was sitting with his back to Yosi during Rafi's activities, so he didn't see that the emotion on Shemulik's face was anything but shock or fear. Those who are experts in such things would have seen something halfway between rage and murderous rage in Shemulik's face. The two tax men were about to become the victim of Yosi's over confidence.
Shemulik (aka. Fatso to Yosi and his unit) weight 120 kilos. However, the only fat that had ever been on Shemulik were the occasional drops of grease that fell on his fingers from the over sized schvarma sandwiches he loved to eat. He was in fact 120 kilos of trained, battle hardened muscle. After eight years in a select anti-terrorist unit and another five with SHABAK (the secret police), Shemulik was anything but panicked by two tax inspectors.
The years in the army had been good ones. But after eight years of hunt, kill, hide and run, he had had enough. SHABAK had also been good in the beginning but it began to sour after the third year. He started to see and hear things that bothered him. At first, he rationalized that it was all part of the secret war they had to fight. But more and more he began to realize that the main activities of SHABAK were not directed against terrorists or even Arabs but against the Jews. Or at lest those Jews the ruling elite disliked. When a rich banker got a relative of his (high ranking of course) to use SHABAK to set up his ex-wife's new husband, Shemulik knew it was time to leave.
He drifted for about two years. America, Asia, Europe; there were times he wasn't even sure what country he was in. America had been fun. After all what is America if not fun. Asia had been exotic. After all what is Asia.... Europe had brought him back to reality.
While staying with a cousin of a cousin of a cousin, or some thing like that, in Berlin, he became obsessed with going to Warsaw. Both his parents had been born in Warsaw and both had had the good fortune to leave for Israel in the early Thirties. His grandparents hadn't been so lucky. No one knew what happened to them but his parents had long ago given up any hope that they had survived. He kept fighting the urge but in the end found himself on a plane headed for Warsaw.
Shemulik had no idea what he was going to do there. The travel agent had booked him into 'a good quality hotel' for eight days. So there were eight days to do something in Warsaw. The hotel turned out to be 'good quality' for Warsaw. He arrived in the late afternoon and only wanted diner, a shower and to sleep. The next day he didn't get down to the lobby until after ten. Most of the other guests seemed to be German businessmen. He could tell because nearly everyone in the lobby was reading a German newspaper. So for the proverbial thousandth time, he asked himself what was he going to do here. The answer came in the form a young lady in her late twenties or early thirties.
"Good morning. You are the Israeli tourist. Correct?"
His SHABAK training became activated. Average height, weight and build; mousey brown hair, nicely done slightly below the shoulders; female business suit with the skirt below the knees; she knew that he was an Israeli tourist and wasn't nervous about approach him. She must be government.
"May I introduce myself?" She added as she reached into an inside pocket and withdrew a card.
"Ph.D. in history and you're a tour guide?" Shemulik was skeptical but open to the possibility.
"Life is difficult these days in Poland. University jobs don't pay much, even if you can get one. Being a tour guide pays better."
"Esther," Shemulik asked, "are you Jewish?"
She gave a practiced smile and what must have also been a practiced answer. "No, my mother's best friend before the war was a Jewish girl. My mother saw her and her whole family shot by the evil Nazis. She was also only a young girl at the time. So out of respect to her friends' memory, she named me after her."
"I imagine," Esther continued, "that you would be interested in a tour of the former Jewish areas of Warsaw. I know quite a great deal about the history of the Jews in Warsaw and have taken many Jews and groups for tours of these sights."
Shemulik agreed to hire her. He spent the next seven days in a time warp. Synagogues, yeshivot, youth movement center, courts of Hasidic Rebbes, the Bund, the Zionist movements and on and on. She really knew her stuff. By the end of the week his head was spinning. Everything that they now have in Israel, had existed in Warsaw, or almost everything. Here it was all gone, dead, plaques on building or pillars where things use to be. Never had he felt such a sense of loss and longing for home.
He went into the first travel agent he saw and arranged to go home.
Almost from the moment he returned he knew his life in Israel would be different. There was a group of Haradim on the plane and they got off just before him. When he saw them bending down to kiss the ground of the Holy Land, his first reaction was to laugh. But the memories of Warsaw were still with him and for the first time he understood how someone could love a land so much that he could actually kiss it. He also bent down and kissed the ground.
He became a bookworm. Mainly history at first. Later he branched out to politics, Zionist ideology and eventually religion. A few weeks after Shemulik had finished reading an overview of Judaism, his life took a new direction.
Shemulik was a Yerushalmi. He was born in Jerusalem and grew up in the city. So naturally when he came home it was to Jerusalem. There are neighborhoods in Jerusalem when starting an hour or so before sunset one can hear the calls of 'ASIRI' or 'TZENTER' coming out from a dozen locations. The object of this effort is to find a tenth man so as to have the required number of men to pray the afternoon prayers (Mincha). When on previous occasions Shemulik had heard the call, he had kept on walking not feeling any interest in the subject. On this particular day he felt a desire to see what all the shouting was about. He walked into the first synagogue he saw to join the Minion (prayer group). He was far from being the tenth man. There were at least fifty men inside and all sorts; old men, young ones,workers, businessmen, shopkeepers, all sorts. Some how he had always thought of religion as being for old men. This was something else.
One thing led to another and within six months, Shemulik was a student in a Yeshiva learning how to be a religious Jew. The next three years were an emotional roller coaster of ups and downs, doubts and solutions. Eventually he found his equilibrium. He also found Sarah which no doubt help stabilize his life. Shortly after their marriage, Shemulik learn to be a Sofer and eventually went into partnership with Dovid, Chaim and Zvika.
Shemulik stood up and spoke in a controlled voice that hid his rage. "You," he picked up the inspector's I.D. and read it. Pointing it at Rafi he told him; "You, Rafi Sweed, put that money back on the table. Then take your friend over there," he pointed at Yosi, "and get out!"
Yosi was amused. It was if one the innumerable cats that inhabit every garbage dumpster in Jerusalem had suddenly stood up on two legs and told him, Yosi, what to do. He almost smiled.
Shemulik continued, "You can't break into an apartment like this and steal peoples money. Where's your search warrant?"
A smile actually spread on Yosi's face. "This is really amusing," he thought and then answered him; "We don't need a search warrant because we haven't broken into your apartment. If you will remember, I knocked on the door and your friend, Dovid Fisher," Yosi turned to face Dovid and sent a chill through the frighten man, "opened the door for us of his own free will. Now as far as stealing peoples money, you saw that we gave Chaim a receipt for the money he claims to be his. If any of you also claim that any of this illegal foreign currency belongs to one of you, why, I'll be more than happy to write you a receipt for it. Then you'll only have to convince a judge that you have a legal right to it."
"So now gentlemen," Yosi continued, "will all of you please be so kind as to come with us to our office to answer a few question." The sarcasm was thick in his voice.
At that point Rafi grabbed Chaim under the arm and lifted him from his chair, slightly pushing him in the direction of the door. Zvika seeing this also got up and began walking towards the door. Shemulik stood where he was and waited for Rafi to get closer to Yosi then he also started walking. Yosi stood facing the group and waited for everyone to get to the door before opening it, so as not to give any of them a chance to bolt.
When Shemulik saw Rafi standing next to Yosi, Rafi with his back to him and Yosi facing him, he stepped close to them and said; "Just a minute, just one minute." Rafi turned around and was practically standing shoulder to shoulder with Yosi. Shemulik stepped forward with his eyes down so as to give the impression that he was afraid of the two men. When he was half an arms lengths from them , his two hands became a blur of activity. Two fists flew into two stomach causing a simultaneous woosh of air from both men. Then, as if it were one motion, the sides of Shemulik's fists slammed into the sides of their heads banging them together. The two tax inspector fell unconscious.
Shemulik burst out into a soft laugh. The only time he had seen such a maneuver was in a punch 'em, kick 'em karate movie a friend in Chicago had dragged him to see. His friend had a part in the movie. When he had seen it in the movie, all he could think of was how stupid could you get? Well now he knew.
Most apartments in Israel have only one entrance. Originally,this one also had but one entrance. However, when the owner bought the ajoining apartment about a year and a half ago and (illegally) connected them, he created a second exit. Chaim had been using the second entrance on a regular basis since it was closer to where he parked his van. So it was via this exit that Shemulik convinced his partner to remove the two unconscious and tied up tax inspectors. The second entrance opened up into a cul-de-sac that had been created by a new building that was placed (also illegally) to close to its' neighbor. As a result, no one saw them carry their unwanted quests to Chaim's van. Zvika covered them with the carpet of the van.
By 1:20, Itzik started to worry. Yosi and Rafi should have been out with the four suspects five minutes ago. Yosi was very professional and wouldn't be sitting and drinking tea with them. He hadn't heard any shouting or anything that sounded like violence, so he wasn't too worried. In any case, his standing orders were to wait ten minutes and then bring Dudu and Izzy before doing anything. So he waited another five minutes and got the others.
Dudu immediately insisted on calling the police for back up. Which was standard in any other unit but Yosi's. Yosi didn't like 'outsiders.' Dudu went to call them while Itzik and Izzy returned to the apartment to see what they could do.
Itzik began knocking on the door. When there was no answer or sound at all, a sick feeling began to dance around his stomach. He shouted; "Yosi, Rafi, what's going on, where are you? Open the door!" Silence was the only answer.
It took the police about twenty minutes to arrive. Dudu had briefed them by phone, so they came in force. Fortunately, very few people were outside when they arrived, so things went relatively well. They broke down the door and found the apartment empty. There were no signs of violence and at first accused the tax men of taking them on a wild goose chase. This caused a nasty exchange between Dudu and the officer in charge. But when one of the policemen found the second exit, they all realized what had happened. Not having anything more to do and not wanting to stir up the neighbors, they all left.
The police were in no great hurry to find out what happened to the two missing tax men. There were no signs of violence and the officer in charge, being a great believer in the basic goodness of humanity and the dedication of tax inspectors, figured that they had made some sort of deal amongst themselves and had not bothered informing the other three. After all serious violence was rare in Israel and unheard off in the Haradi community, so why worry. They'll turn up.
A particularly neglected piece of back road jarred the van. It also jarred Yosi into consciousness. He was totally disoriented. His head ached, his stomach ached, he couldn't see anything or move. Eventually his brain unscrambled and he remembered what had happened. Slowly the reality of his position formed in his mind. Fatso had clobbered both him and Rafi. " Both of us in one shot." he thought. His aching stomach and head reminded him how it had happened. Yosi was frighten. He was tied up, gaged, blindfolded and covered by some sort of heavy cloth. He had no idea as to what time it was or where he was. He assumed that Rafi was somewhere near him but he wasn't sure. From the bumps and sense of movement he felt, he also assumed that he was in a vehicle being driven somewhere. Yes, Yosi was very frighten.
He began to hear snatches of conversation.
"...one vacation..." "...no one ever goes there..." "...Safari Park, the lions...you can almost touch them if..." "...are you sure it's the right thing to do maybe..." "You heard they know all about us, so what choice..."
"No, no, no," Yosi's brain began to scream, "they're going into the Safari Park and throw me to the lions!"
Fear, pain and panic combined in Yosi but he was tied to well to get loose and it only deepened his horror.
Finally the van stoped. It began to maneuver first backwards, then forwards and then again backwards. Yosi heard the side door slide open. The cloth was removed but he still couldn't see anything. However, he felt that they were taking Rafi out of the van first. Knowing that Rafi was there gave him a sense of comfort. There wasn't anything rational in his comfort but he felt it all the same and it helped him calm down a bit. Then they came for him. He was lifted and carried a distance before being placed on the ground and left. The ground was very rocky and cold. The air felt damp and had a foul smell to it. Yosi could hear what sounded like Rafi unsuccessfully struggling to get free. "At lest he's alive." Yosi thought, and wondered for how long and when would the lions find them.
Sensory depravation causes the sense of time to become distorted. Yosi had no idea how long he laid there before he heard the sound. It was the sound an animal makes when sniffing the air. He couldn't tell if it was near by or far away. He had no sense of space either. Then he began to smell it. A dirty smell that got stronger and stronger. Yosi knew it was getting closer to him. He heard a growl, the kind that indicates annoyance. His only desire was to stay still and not draw any attention to himself but at the same time, was desperate to get away. An other growl, this one next to his ear. The animal was next to him; then teeth.
Teeth, sharp pieces of calcium. Cutting skin, cutting muscle, cutting nerves. One set above his arm, one set under his arm. Nerves activated; synapse to synapse, impulse after impulse until at the speed of sound the message reached Yosi's brain. There , an explosion of chemical activities; brain function followed by brain function; interpretation followed by interpretation until a return message was formed. It reached his vocal cords and produced a scream that only a man that knows with certainty that he is being devoured by a lion can make.
Yaacov had developed an intense hatred towards the old Arab. Every day the Arab would come with his small flock of goats and his dog and every day Yaacov would have to confront him. For three months, every day for three months. " What kind of people are these Arabs." Yaacov thought. " In Russia, they destroyed the Jewish cemetery in my town to build houses. A terrible thing to do but at least there was some purpose to the desecration. But this Arab, what did he gain by trying to bring his goats into the Mount of Olives cemetery every day, what?"
When he got the job as a guard, Yaacov found it amusing. Guarding a cemetery was hardly a job for an experienced ship's captain but there weren't to many ships in Israel that needed captains these days. A job is a job. Besides it did not seem that there would be much to do except to read and improve his Hebrew. As they say; "Those that are in can't get out and those that are out don't want to get in." An easy job; until the Arab.
At first he had told his supervisor, who had showen little interest and told him to call the police. The police said they would send someone to investigate, no one ever came. So every day Yaacov chased him away.
Today, Yaacov's supervisor called him and the other guards together to give all of them tax forms to fill out. Since all the guards were either Russians or Ethiopians, it went slow. Yaacov arrived almost forty minutes later than usual to his post. The old Arab and his goats were already in the middle of the cemetery. The dog was peeing on a tombstone. He hurried to chase them out. The Arab and his dog went around the side of a hill and were hidden from sight. By the time Yaacov got there all he saw were the goats. "Where is that old man?" Yaacov thought. "I'll teach him and his dog something today! Peeing on a tombstone, that's to much."
Suddenly, he heard a scream to his left, turned to see what it was and saw the old Arab fly out of the side of the hill. He was clutching his chest and screaming something in Arabic. As he ran he tripped and fell headlong into a small boulder, smashing his head. Yaacov was so startled by what he saw that he literally jumped backwards. After a second he recovered from his shock and ran to the Arab. He was laying on the ground. There was blood on his head and on the boulder. Yaacov bent down to check his pulse; none. Then his heart and breathing; none. It was obvious to Yaacov that the old man was dead; either from a heart attach or from smashing his head. But what had frighten him and where had he come from?
Yaacov turned towards the direction that the Arab had come from and saw the entrance to a tomb. It was recessed in such a way that it could only be seen looking head-on. He got up and walked towards the tomb. When he was almost there, he heard the dog barking inside. Yaacov pulled out the small flash light he kept in his pocket and drew his gun. Very cautiously he entered the tomb.
Yosi was sitting up in his hospital bed looking at the IV coming out of his left arm. In spite of the pain killers, he could feel a throbbing pain in his right shoulder where the dog had mauled him. He and Rafi were lucky to be alive. It was ironic that it was the dog that had saved them. As he sat considering the past days events, a nurse came to his bed. She was holding a large Manila envelope. "Yosi Zahav?" She asked.
"Yes." Yosi answered.
"This is for you." She handed him the envelope, looked at his chart and left.
The envelope had his name written on it. Under his name was his army serial number. "The army? What do they want?" He opened the envelope and spilled out a bunch of pictures. At first Yosi thought it was some kind of mix-up. He didn't recognize any of the people in the pictures. Then he saw one of his elderly mother sitting in her wheelchair. Suddenly he understood the meaning of the pictures. They were family members of the men in his unit. Just in case Yosi didn't get the message, there was a note that said: "Forget us and we will forget you." Mendel walked in while he was reading the note.
"How are you doing, Yosi? You're definitely looking better. Tell me, where is the file of the case you were working on? The police want to have a look at it. Dudu, Izzy and Itzik only know the suspects by their nicknames."
Yosi didn't speak. He handed the pictures and the note to Mendel. Mendel looked them over and said: "Do what they say Yosi. Do it."
"But they're criminal, Mendel." Yosi answered weakly.
"You're right, Yosi, but they're criminals that in less than a day and a half managed to snatch a file from a high security office, identify the members of your unit, locate and photograph their family members and send you the pictures. By the way what's that number on the envelope?"
"It's my army serial number." Yosi answered.
"Your army serial number!" Mendel said. "Even I don't know that."
Mendel took the pictures, placed them back into the Manila envelope and said; "I'm going to see Rafi now. I'll explain it to him. Forget them, all you ever knew was their nicknames, just like the others. These guys are too dangerous and you know the police won't help."
Yosi laid down in bed looking at the ceiling. He knew that his defeat was total.
Copyright, 1997, by Aryeh Zelasko.
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