was hard for Abraham to express in words, even to himself, the feeling he had when Maxine returned to him. It was warmth and cool peace, annoyance and assurance
all mixed up. He’d hated
to see her go home. Sitting in the living room with the drapes drawn, he closed his eyes and imagined her smile and the crinkles around her eyes when she
smiled. Sometimes she
was a meshugena. A man could not deny that. Sometimes an
old biddy. But he would never call Maxine
either of those things to her face. Nor would he allow anyone else to.
going to be all right, Abraham,” she’d said. “We’ll figure a way out of this. And no one has to know about the…the mistake you made.”
taken her hand and patted it tenderly. “In Yiddish, Maxine, we have familiar names. Names mothers call their boys. My name is Avrom.”
Avrom. I like it, Dr. Sorkin.”
had grimaced, but still his hand rested on hers. Even now he could hear her say it.
now things would get better. Together they would keep each other, and Macie, safe. He believed it with all his heart. For the first time since Sh’aul had lost
his mind, he wasn’t alone.
he had to convince those important men, big in their own eyes, they didn’t need a poor Jewish doctor. Somehow he had to make them leave him in peace.
Austin said they’d
come after his nurses. They might
all ready have Macie. This, he didn’t tell Maxine. Maybe if he could convince them the women didn’t know anything….They might attack him; after
all, he was the one who had the
thing they wanted, but a defenseless woman?
couldn’t tell anyone. Not Phillip Stone, not the police, not Maxine. Especially not Maxine. He would find out if those crooks had taken his Macie and he
would make them give her back
and then he would tell Maxine how it had all come about. She would see him as a choshever
mentsch. A man of honor and dig—
slammed his hand into the medical dictionary lying on the table and it crashed to the floor. The fragile spine cracked and pages fluttered like miller moths
colliding with each other. Maxine’s
image came to him again.
lie builds another.”
knelt to rescue the errant pages.
walked the few blocks from the bus stop to her home. She glanced across the street at the McKenzie house; it looked like no one was there. Even if that cool red thing
was in the garage, his car should
be in the drive. That’s the way it seemed to work…hers in the garage,
his in the drive where he had to scrape ice off in winter and where the sun pounded away at the paint in the summer. Of course, the red one was newer,
unlocked her door and stepped inside, immediately assaulted by the cat.
you don’t quit,” she said as it wound itself between her feet,” you’re going to trip me.”
She pulled her leg away from the
animal and took an exaggerated step toward the sofa. The cat twisted and wormed its way between her and the furniture.
Mama told you to quit.” Maxine tumbled onto the brown couch and knocked off a pink-tasseled cushion. The cat’s
attention immediately went to the pillow and he began to knead it furiously.
took off her jacket and draped it over the sofa back, then removed her shoes and stretched out.
you’re acting like a lovesick teenager. Next thing you’ll do is write your name over and over, like it’d
be if you were married to the man. Like a teenager, Maxine.
giggled. Where had the years gone? She barely remembered being a teenager. Well, that’s not exactly true. I remember
Elvis. Love me tender, love...Abraham, Avrom, do you like Elvis? Do you like pizza or jazz or...Maxine’s breath caught
in her throat with the realization. After twenty years, she knew virtually nothing about Abraham Sorkin.
Viet Nam, she remembered. She remembered saying goodbye to Tommy. The thin white envelopes,
with their red and blue striped edges, that carried letters back and forth between them. She remembered watching newscasts
showing young men crawling on their bellies over swamp-covered ground, machine gun sputter and shell blasts behind them. And
she remembered the last visit…not with Tommy, but with his wife. He’d confessed to her. His “indiscretion,”
as they called it in the Bogart movies. And that was that.
voice startled her. Heat traveled up her face and she hunkered down on the couch, staring out the window. Abraham’s
different, she thought. He’s never been married, but he must’ve had a girl friend, maybe more. Why didn’t
he marry? I’m different, too Abraham. I know what it’s like to be humiliated, to have someone use you. To be...what’s
the word...dumped. Bogie never dumped anyone. Do you like Bogie, Abraham?
confided in her. That meant a lot. She wanted to tell someone, anyone, but there wasn’t anyone to tell. Maybe Macie’d
be home by now. Phil said she hadn’t come home last night, but Maxine was pretty sure there was a note tacked up somewhere
telling him she’d gone to her mother’s. Macie was pretty frazzled these days and what with the hassle from the
pro-life people and now the trouble with her pregnancy…Well, under that kind of stress, Maxine thought she’d probably
go home to mama, too. That is, if mama was the kind to go home to. Macie never talked much about her mother, but a kid like
that needed to go home sometimes. Just to know home was still there.
where is your home, Maxine? Not your house…your bed…but your home? Home is where the heart is, they say. So, my
she said again, enjoying the feel of the word on her tongue.
The plane ticket was in his hand. Coach, to Miami. From there, Leonard would catch
a commuter flight to Nassau. He closed his eyes and imagined the white sand beaches and the smell of salt sea.
the second day, God divided the waters above from the waters below and he saw that it was good. On the sixth day, He created woman from man’s rib and it
was very good.”
could do his sermon on that Sunday, if he was going to be here. As it was, Leonard had packed his wildest swim trunks, a few
Wal-Mart shirts, and a couple pair of jeans. His fancy stuff would have to stay behind.
Wilson had promised to get everything set up. The girl was ready; Leonard had covered
for her with her husband. Yessir. Another day and his troubles were over. When the money started rolling in, they’d
find him on the beach in Nassau, drinking something pink and fruity.
think they’ll really send you that Judas coin, do you boy?”
sank to the bedroom floor and pulled his knees to his chest. “Me maw, can’t you never leave a body in peace?”
when you’re out to serve Satan, I can’t. Not when you’re the devil’s pawn.”
Me maw, I’ll have me a church with a thousand people in it. And a shiny kitchen, with two ovens and two refrigerators,
named after you. The Flossie Soudo Culinary Wing. What you think about that, Me maw?”
think, boy, that you are headed for a mighty fall. You will be like chaff before the wind. The angel of the Lord will chase
you, boy. Word says so. Your way will be dark and slippery, and destruction will come on you sudden-like. That’s what
the Good Book says, Leonard.”
maw, leave me be. Leave me be. Leave me be….” Leonard took a deep breath and pushed himself up. He picked up the
ticket envelope and held it to his lips, gave it a wet smack.
“Yessir. That sixth day God
really did good. Take that Mrs. McKenzie for example. A fine piece of work. Fine.”
pulled out several pair of underwear and tucked them into a suitcase on the bed.
“I’ll just bet she’d look good in a bikini on that white, shiny beach. Too bad she’s still
hanging on to that man of hers. Oh well, there’ll be more where that came from in the Bahamas.” He finished packing
and closed the case.
won’t hurt the girl. They’ll let her go as soon as the old doc gives them the notes.”
Leonard worked his jaw
as he stared out the bedroom window.
“No one else gets hurt. Not like the kid in Thornton. By the time the police finish
tying up those leads, tracing the explosion back to those unfortunate young men with the web site, Reverend Leonard Soudo
will be long gone.”
was starting to relax again.
future generations will rise up and call me blessed because of my part in making transplants available to all the people.
Like feeding the five thousand. And the blessings will roll in by the thousands. Yessir.”
grabbed the small suitcase, two-stepped across the room and slid down the carpeted hall to the living room.
Papa’s got a brand new bag. James Brown, eat your heart out.”