Recap: Miri was assigned to cover an art exhibit at the nursing home as the candidate for city councilman was attending, and her editor wanted her to interview him and to cover the event. She met the candidate and he asked for her card with all her contact information. Mrs. Mintz spotted the man and she turned pale. Later she tells Miri that that man is the German collaborator.
My first reaction when Mrs. Mintz said that Mr. Quail was the German collaborator was, that can’t be. He was a respectable citizen running for city councilman. How could he be a traitor to our country?
I followed the nurse who was wheeling Mrs. Mintz to her spot by the fountain in the lovely courtyard. I tried to calm her down. “Mrs. Mintz, you must be mistaken. Mr. Quail is a politician. He’s part of the government. You haven’t seen that collaborator since you were a little girl.”
Mrs. Mintz stared at me. Her eyes were blue mirrors of fear in her pale face. “Miri, I assure you that I saw him after that at least two other times. I recognized him at a parade one year. It was a Fourth of July Parade and he was there a few yards away from Becky and me. She saw him, too. We both ducked away from him as fast as we could. Another time, I saw him downtown in a store.
“That’s him. He’s the one.”
I felt myself shivering, though the day was quite warm. I wondered if she was right. I realized with a terrible, sinking feeling that I had just given that man my business card. He now had all my contact information including my address. And he’d asked what paper I wrote for. My heart pounded. Did he know about the feature article?
After the nursing home, I headed home, looking behind me the whole way. I started to daven as I walked. Hashem, please put Michael on the right, Gavriel on the left, Raphael in back, and Uriel in front, and the Sh’chinah above me. I always need His protection, but right now I especially wanted extra protection. I really needed it.
When I got home, Dalya Brownstein was standing in front of my door. She was the last person I felt like dealing with right now.
He was a respectable citizen running for city councilman.
How could he be a traitor to our country?
“I was just going to leave you a note. I’m so glad you’re here. Can you please help me? I was assigned a big article on the Emunah Women shiur.”
“When is it?” I asked, praying it was next week and I could deal with it then.
“It’s in an hour. Please can you come and help me with the notes.”
You’ve got to be kidding. “Can’t you take your own notes?”
She had a hurt expression in her large, dark eyes. “I’m sorry to bother you; I’m sure you’re very busy. Jennifer thought you might have time to help me. It’s my first time taking notes on a big speech. I wanted to see how you do it, how you pick out the main points.”
Of course, she’d said the magic word: “Jennifer.” Jennifer wanted me to help her. I took a deep breath. Maybe hearing a shiur now was a good idea. It would take my mind off my troubles.
“Okay, come in for a minute. I just have to get a drink. Would you like some water?”
We headed out together. The shul was only a few blocks away, and I already had my notebook and camera with me.
On the way, Dalya prattled. “I just love this job. Writing is so much fun.”
I didn’t say anything. I just listened.
“It’s so kind of you to help me.” She stopped a minute to admire an orange Tiger Lily. “I was just wondering,” she said.
“Do you – well did you ever date someone you really liked?”
I was taken aback by her question. The first person I thought of was Daniel Blaustein. “I did once,” I admitted.
“So, did you let him know you felt that way? I mean, well, if he was hinting that he was getting serious, did you say you were, too?”
“I, well, if it happened, I would,” I said.
Her eyes were shining. “Thanks. I thought you would say that. I just wondered. It’s something I thought an older girl could tell me.”
The “older girl” label stung. I couldn’t seem to let go of the pain. Remember everything, everything is from Hashem.
“So, don’t tell anyone,” she smiled at me. “But I’m dating this great guy. He had just broken up with someone so he was a bit sad when I met him, but now…”
“That’s nice,” I said. I wasn’t interested in hearing any more about it.
We were a few feet away from the shul and a large group of women were just passing by us towards the shul. I stepped behind the group, wishing I was with anyone else but Dalya Brownstein.
Later, I complained to Leah. “Someone asked me advice about dating and said, ‘since I’m an older girl.’ I hate being called an older girl.”
Leah was quiet for a minute. “Miri, think about this. Hashem has a bashert for each of us. We believe that. I just know that yours is right around the corner. Don’t let things people say hurt you. You’re too good for that.” She didn’t say anything about Daniel Blaustein and I wasn’t going to bring him up. He’d hurt me so much. Leah said, “You once told me how Hashem puts all the people into our lives to help us grow. Whoever said those hurtful comments is just a messenger to help you grow.”
”So, I may have told you that because I heard it in a shiur, but it’s much harder to actually put it in practice. It’s so hard.”
“I am davening so hard for you that it is not possible that you won’t find him soon. I know you will.”
I headed for the nursing home. Mrs. Mintz was seated by the fountain. I noticed that there was a new frog statue spurting water right near her seat. She grabbed my hand when I approached her.
“Miri, I’m so frightened. That man that was here is dangerous.” I didn’t know what to say. She was scaring me but I had to reassure her. “Don’t worry, Mrs. Mintz. If he is the man you say he is, then…” Then I realized it was my responsibility to expose him in my column. I really needed to get a hold of that letter in Mrs. Mintz’s old house.
To be continued…
Susie Garber is the author of Denver Dreams, a novel (Jerusalem Publications, 2009), Memorable Characters…Magnificent Stories (Scholastic, 2002), Befriend (Menucha Publishers, 2013), The Road Less Traveled (Feldheim, 2015), fiction serials and features in various magazines including A Bridge in Time, historical fiction serial (Binyan Magazine, 2017). She writes the community column for the Queens Jewish Link and she writes the Queens page for Hamodia. She works as a writing consultant in many yeshivos and she teaches creative writing to students of all ages.