Abraham sat in the dark, ignoring the knock on the front door of his apartment.
“Abraham. Dr. Sorkin. Are you home?”
Maxine knocked again, then her voice receded. “Can’t figure out where the man could be. Dart’s in the garage.
At least the cab didn’t leave yet.”
cab, she takes,” he muttered. “At her age, she should drive.”
He couldn’t deal with Maxine’s chatter
right now. He had to think. Someone was stalking Macie, probably pro-lifers. He didn’t think they wanted to hurt her.
It was him, the abortion doctor they wanted to shut down. No, Macie would be okay. But Sh’aul. That was something different.
How did they find him?
silly old man. How do you think they found him? It’s no secret you go out of town. You go the same place always. That’s
how they found him, old man. You led them to him.
could get nothing from Saul, of that Abraham was certain. Fourteen years ago, when he had pulled out the papers from the safety
deposit box, when he’d gone over them line-by-line with Abraham, recalling to his brother the work of the Nazi doctors,
then Saul knew.
That was before Alzheimer’s shredded his brain. Then, he remembered his own name. He still knew his
Marta. He was still Sh’aul Sorkin. The rebbe’s curse flew through
the unlit room, like a bird flapping in the darkness, ramming against Abraham’s reason. And Abraham bit his lip against
the memories, tasted blood as he remembered taking shelter in his older brother’s strong arms.
"But why, Sh’aul? Why has the Lord God brought us to this place?"
Abraham stood cradling the phone in his left hand,
staring out at the lone tree standing bear against a pewter sky. Finally, he dialed.
my friend. You have decided to cooperate.”
have decided nothing. I need your help.”
“I can’t help you, Abraham. I can barely
you tell them about Saul? They went to the home. They hurt him, Michael."
“Please, Abraham, turn over your notes to
these men. You don’t know who you’re dealing with. These
guys have money, lots of manpower. They have business in Central City, in Las Vegas. Do you understand? Gambling, and crime. Think gangsters, Abraham. Think syndicate."
“I couldn’t give you the notes if I
wanted to, Michael. I burned them.”
“But you have it on disks...”
“No. Not on disks.”
hard drive, then? Abraham, these people are coming after me next. Please, if you have any human decency, give them what they want.”
“I don’t have any notes. I told you,
I burned them. They were never on the computer.” Sorkin pulled the phone away from his ear but not before he heard the
if they can’t persuade you, there’s always your nurses.”
The phone rang in Leonard Soudo’s living room and he
“Speak, and I will answer.” Leonard
transferred the phone to his other hand and chewed at a ragged fingernail.
need to tie up loose ends soon, Reverend.”
Leonard’s hands started shaking.
have a ticket out of here in three days. What about the…visit… to the gentleman in the country?”
“He doesn’t even know his name, let
alone where we find papers he hid years ago.”
“Absolutely. Our friend tried a bit of…friendly
“Then we go.”
“No one else gets hurt, right?”
“I didn’t mean for that kid in Thornton...”
problem you have, Leonard, is you’re mixing apples and oranges. Mixing…what do you religious people call it…mammon
with morals. Can’t be done, son. You asked to get in. No one invited you. The amount you invested wouldn’t buy
you squat. It’s your…position that’s valuable.”
voice stilled, as though listening to Leonard’s ragged breathing. “Are you there, Reverend?”
I was saying, you are in a place to… keep a finger on the pulse of things without arousing suspicion. Your church gives
you the cover we need. I mean, who would look for contacts…customers, if you will, on an Internet hit list? It’s
like hiding something in plain sight…like that movie."
really don’t believe in abortion.”
course you don’t. But you don’t believe in taking a vow of poverty either, right?”
“Just tell me no one else gets hurt.”
“Anything you say, Reverend Soudo. As long
as the nurse doesn’t recognize you. We’ll get the notes, she’ll be released and no one has to be the wiser.”
about the old doctor?.”
know what you have to do, Reverend.”
the click, Leonard hung up. Me maw, it’s going to be okay. You’ll see. That nurse, she’ll just think it’s
those Pro-Life people trying to scare the doctor. When he comes across, we’ll let them both off the hook.
rocked back in his chair, tenting his hands, tapping fingertips together. It was too late to get out. Now, he just had to
salvage what conscience remained and start new somewhere else. When the research started paying off, then there’d be
a chance to make things right. He’d start another church. Open an old folks’ home. Something.
my ship comes in….” He took a deep breath.
you done seared your conscience so it don’t know right from wrong anymore. I taught you better than you’re doing.”
“Meemaw, it’s just for a little while.
And there’ll be someone there with her so the woman won’t get too scared. Another lady. Young and pretty."
“That’s sure enough part of your problem, Leonard. You
need to let the women alone. A preacher needs to have a wife, baby. Someone sweet and solid, won’t make the church ladies
jealous. A good woman, Leonard, and you’d be a good man. I know you would, baby.”
“I got to get through this. You just don’t
understand. It was always good enough for you, wearin’ the cast-offs of those rich white folks. Me maw. I don’t
want no one’s second-hand pants, or shirts or cars or women. I want me the best.”
closed his eyes and let images of his childhood flood his mind. There was Meemaw’s house, small, clean, crammed with
photos of him and paintings of Jesus. In the corner a Kenmore sewing machine sat, its cabinet of some nondescript wood. A pile of jeans always
lay on the chair next to the machine. Me maw used yards of that iron-on stuff, supposed to mend torn things. What she couldn’t
fix with the iron-on, Me maw sewed. Patched and re-patched his pants.
remembered the Corner Drug. At , mobs of teen boys crowded against the counter, where you could still get a sandwich
or a shake. If you had money, which Leonard didn’t. So he hunkered in the magazine aisle mentally devouring pictures
of boats and cars flanked by bikini-clad models. Once, he’d grabbed one of those slick publications, stuffed it into
his baggy shirt, and smuggled it home.
you want to steal for, baby?” Me maw asked when she found it. “And coveting on top of that. Sin, baby. That’s
what you done. You sinned.”
An hour sermon followed, and afterward, instructions
to return the magazine to the store with an apology.
your licks, boy. That’s the only thing to do.” Me maw hustled him out the door, trusting he’d take back
shouldn’t never have trusted me so much, Me maw.
opened his eyes, took a deep breath and looked out the window, across the street where his neighbor stood, putting balls onto
a plastic green, the sun glinting off his club.