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Fiction

 They stared at the unmarked brown package. Rabbi Shulman reached out to pick up the box, but before he could touch it Chaya, his youngest daughter, snatched the package and shook it. A single object thunk-ed against the sides. The paperboard crinkled as she glid her fingers across top of the box. She brought the package inside and set it on the coffee table. Rabbi Shulman sat on the blue flower print sofa. He looked at his daughter and smiled.


“What, daddy?” Chaya asked.


“Oh, I am just happy, Chaya.”


“Why?”


“Because you are so smart.”


“Smart enough to study the Gemara like Jacob and Ari?” she asked.


“This is more fun than the stuff I study with your brothers. Get up here, and we will guess what is inside,” he said. Her small arms and legs struggled to climb up the couch. He reached down to help her up, but she pushed his hand away.


“Daddy, let me do it,” she said, and at her own pace, she climbed the couch. They cuddled together in front of the package. “Daddy did you or mommy order anything online?”


“Good question, neither your mother nor I ordered anything,” he said.


“That is what I thought because, daddy, there is no address on it.”


“Good. Now, what do we know?”


“A brown package was hand delivered before noon,” she answered. The time was 12:02 P.M. according to the Rabbi’s watch. He shook her shoulder a few times and embraced her.


“Yes! Very good,” he said. “Perfect deduction. Chaya, I am so proud right now,” he said.


“Daddy, thank you, but not so loud.” Chaya was right, but it was too late. Rivka, Rabbi Shulman’s wife, had run out of the kitchen.


“What is wrong and what is that?” asked Rivka. She pointed at the package.


“Nothing is wrong, Rivka, we are trying to figure out, what is inside the package and who sent it.”


“Then open it. Oh, I’ll do it,” she said. She tore away the paperboard. She reached inside and pulled out a pair of earbuds. “See earbuds,” Rivka pushed a button they were fully charged. “Obviously, you two are not busy. Chaya, run into the kitchen, and start washing the lettuce for the salad. Well, go on now.” Chaya darted for the door. Rivka pointed at the Rabbi, “You, go talk to Benny Blemel.”


“Why?”


“Those,” she pointed at the earbuds. “Just like Blemel’s pair. Anyways, I saw him at the grocer on seventh, and he completely ignored me,” Rivka said.


“Oh.”


“Yes, I mean, I waved at him, and he just bobbed his head. He always has those stupid things in his ears, and he always ignores everyone. Even if someone addresses him, and it is clear that he saw them, he just points.”


“Points at what?”


“His earbuds. He points at the earbuds and shrugs,” Rivka said.


“Hmm.”


“Hmm? Is that all? Ignoring people is no way for the richest man in town to behave,” Rivka said. “All I wanted to talk to him about was your daughters first grade science fair. They need sponsors, and I thought he would want to help.”


The Rabbi had noticed Bemel’s obsession with the head phones. Apparently, Benny Blemel’s puts earbuds in his ears before breakfast, and there they stay until he showers before bed. The Rabbi placed his new earbuds in his coat pocket, and began walking to Blemel’s.


On his way, Rabbi Shulman waved hello to Mrs. Greeley, the Rovenbatz maid, and she waved back at him. The Rabbi continued walking—until he noticed that Mrs. Greeley was waving at him still. With a sigh and a tug on his beard, Rabbi Shulman stopped and turned towards Mrs. Greeley.


“Yes. Thank you, Rabbi. I was wondering if you had seen Benny Blemel yet this morning?”


“I am on the way to see him now.”


“Would you please deliver this for my Mr. and Mrs. they say it is important. I would have gone to the synagogue to see if he was there myself of course, but after last time…” He nodded and took the missive.


“Yes, we can’t have a repeat of that now.” Rabbi Shulman said laughing.


Dropping her gardening pretext, Mrs. Greeley tossed the sheers under the porch and ran inside. The Rabbi continued walking. Around the corner he waved at Shannon Shultz. Shannon waived back with both hands. The Rabbi continued walking.


Shannon screamed, “Rabbi! May I speak to you for a moment?” The Rabbi stopped. “Rabbi, Will you see Benny Blemel today?” Mrs. Schultz asked.


“I am on the way over there now.” He said.


“Would you please give him this? Tell him that I will pay him back very quickly, before shobbos, probably.” The Rabbi took the Missive, turned to leave, but Mendle Manishevitz stood behind him.


“Rabbi, did I hear you say that you were going to Benny Blemel’s house?” Mendle asked. The Rabbi nodded, and Mendle handed him a missive. “Would you please give him this for me? I will pay him back, Rabbi, and this time I mean it.” The Rabbi continued walking, and after a few quick steps, he slammed his knee into something—someone.


“Ow!” said a high-pitched voice. The Rabbi looked down, and he saw Chaya rubbing her head.


“Sorry, Chaya, daddy did not see you there.” Rabbi Shulman squatted down, held his daughter, and kissed her head.


“It’s okay, daddy, but did I hear you say you were going to Mr. Blemel’s house? Because my science project needs...” The Rabbi stood up, placed the earbuds inside his ears, and rushed away. Mrs. Catzenberg waived at the Rabbi, and he waved back. Mrs. Catzenberg yelled for the Rabbi. He pointed to the earbuds, and the Rabbi continued walking.


When the Rabbi got to the Blemel’s Estate, he placed the missives in the mailbox. He considered throwing the missives away, but a good Rabbi keeps his promises. Unaware of the Rabbi’s presence, Mr. Blemel left his house, and walked down the driveway. The men froze when they saw each other. The Rabbi shrugged, pointed to his earbuds, and mouthed the words, “Sorry I cannot hear you.” Blemel smiled and the two men walked away in opposite directions.


End

December 02, 2021 06:34

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2 comments

Felice Noelle
20:19 Dec 30, 2021

Thomas: I really liked this piece and will reread it to be better prepared for constructive criticism. By just offhand, unless it is characteristic of orthodox speech, you might want to use some contractions in the dialogue particularly. The last time a kid said I did not instead of I didn't was when they had done something naughty and were defending themself. Try it saying it aloud and see which sounds more like dialogue. But then, again, maybe that is the way you wanted them to speak. Your story, your characters, your choice. Just ...

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Thomas Giorgione
02:55 Jan 02, 2022

Thank you for reading my story, and your point is well taken. Dialogue is difficult for me, and your helpful advice will be applied immediately to the next thing I write. Tangentially it may be time that I invest in Grammarly.

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