Recap: Jordie goes with Zevi to Zevi’s lifeguarding job. Jordie ends up saving a boy from drowning. On the way to camp, a lady wearing a burqa asks to borrow a phone from them. Zevi doesn’t really want to lend it to her, but he does.

 I was turning the page in the book when suddenly strong beams of light shone into the room.

“Duck!” Jordie pushed me down to the floor.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

The phone rang.

“Don’t answer it. Stay down.” He whispered.

My heart was thumping.

The lights shone in blinding force.

I was holding my breath.

After a long time, the lights stopped and Jordie whispered to me, “Is there a window we can climb through out back?”

“Yeah. What’s going on?” I asked. This was so strange!

“Look, I can’t explain. Just trust me that there are some really bad people that are after me and we’ve got to get out of here now. Go upstairs and pack a few things for overnight in a backpack. Bring that book of your grandmother’s. It’s a good distraction. Can you call your aunt and see if we can sleep there tonight?”

I plodded towards the phone, glancing behind me to see if any more lights would appear.

Aunt Ellie answered on the first ring. “Come over tonight, Zevi. Bring Jordie.”

“How did you know I was––”

She hung up before I could finish my sentence.

What was going on?

I headed upstairs to pack. I felt like I was walking in some kind of dream. None of this felt real.

Jordie was packed and waiting in the kitchen. He’d pried open the window.

“Let’s hurry,” he whispered.

“Why? What are we running from?”

He didn’t answer. Instead, he motioned me to follow him out the window.

It was pitch dark in the backyard. I tried to ignore the way my heart was pounding in my ears. Distraction. Think of something else. I always used to do that when I was scared of something. The crickets were singing away. That meant that Rosh HaShanah and fall were coming. Abba had pointed that out to me when I was little.

I started towards the front, but Jordie put his hand on my shoulder. “No,” he whispered. “Let’s go the back way to your aunt’s. I am pretty sure those people with the bright lights are looking for me.”

How did he know that? Who were they? I shivered. We traipsed through the woods in the back and past the creek. The sound of the water gurgling, and frogs croaking, was reassuring. Some things in the world stayed the same. Even when you were running away from something and everything seemed so scary and strange, it was comforting that nature stayed the same. It was a moonless night and particularly dark. I tripped over vines and tree branches. One vicious branch tore at my leg. I felt the blood trickling as we kept moving towards Aunt Ellie’s house.

Who was following us? Why the bright lights? How did Aunt Ellie know? So many questions floated through my brain.

Jordie kept up a brisk pace.

Finally, my aunt’s house was in sight.

“We go in the back,” Jordie said.

I felt like a robber or something sneaking up on the house.

Aunt Ellie’s back window was wide open and Jordie motioned me to follow him into the house. “I’d rather go through the window to avoid anyone possibly seeing us.”

Aunt Ellie was in the kitchen. Her usual smile was tight and she quickly closed the window behind us.

“Was anyone following you?” she whispered.

Jordie shook his head.

I started to ask Aunt Ellie if she’d seen anyone following us, but she cut me off.

“You two will sleep downstairs in the basement.”

We were in the guest room in the basement, and Jordie was closing all the shades.

“What is going on?” I finally asked. This was crazy. I needed to know what we were running away from.


My whole body was shaking. Aunt Ellie seemed to know we were coming. Strange phone calls, blinding lights, a sneaky escape from my house to Aunt Ellie. What was going on? I wanted to wake up from this scary dream. Except I was already awake.

We sat in the dim basement room on two freshly made cots. Jordie kept checking, peeking behind the corner of the curtain.

“What are you looking for?” I whispered. “Is someone following us?”

“It’s a long story. I will tell you. Let’s just wait to make sure no one comes.”

We sat there another half hour until finally Jordie started to explain.

“It’s not something I wanted to have to tell you, but you’re involved now, so I guess you need to know.”

“Know what?”

He glanced out the corner of the curtain again and quickly replaced it.

“Are you okay with keeping a dangerous secret? It could mean the lives of my whole family and possibly yours.”

I swallowed.

“Look, I felt how you’re feeling now when I found out. It was a year ago that my whole life changed.”

I felt like I was whirling on a crazy carousel. My head was spinning. “You’re scaring me.”

“I don’t mean to. I’m sorry. It’s this.” He walked over to his knapsack and pulled out a large brown envelope and extended it towards me.

There was Arabic writing on the front.

“What is it?”

“It’s important information. It’s in Arabic because my parents are part of Israeli intelligence. They’re spies, and right now they’re on a dangerous mission in one of the Arab countries. I don’t know which country. My father gave me this to give to a man from the FBI named Donaldson. He should be coming here tomorrow. He was originally going to come to your house but that plan had to change.

“You mean someone knows about this envelope and wants to get it?” My voice squeaked.

Jordie nodded. “Someone knows. It’s an arm of a terrorist group and they’re trying desperately to retrieve it. It’s got tons of valuable info about a terror cell. It’s vital for Israel and the world’s safety.”

“Aunt Ellie knows about this?”

“Yes. Your parents are trying to help. My parents are kind of, well, they may be stuck in one of those countries. Your father is going to the Israeli government to ask for help.”

My first thought was I hoped my parents were safe. They had to be safe! What if something happened to them? This sounded like a dangerous mission. I started davening, asking Hashem to keep them safe. I hadn’t heard from them since they’d left a couple of days ago. Then I realized how Jordie must be feeling. “When did you last hear from your family?” I asked.

“Two weeks ago,” he said.

“Well, we have to daven.” I took the T’hilim from my knapsack. I showed him some T’hilim, and we said them together.

Aunt Ellie came downstairs.

“You boys get some sleep. There isn’t a sign of anyone coming now so let’s assume you’re safe now. I hoped she was right.”

“Thanks, Aunt Ellie.”

“Good night.” She headed back upstairs.

I couldn’t imagine sleeping, but Jordie was already lying down.

“How can you sleep? I’m so nervous.”

“You learn to live with it. You have to.”

I wondered if I could ever do that. My life felt like it had been turned upside down.

 To be continued…

 Susie Garber is the author of an historical fiction novel, Flight of the Doves (Menucha Publishing, 2023), Please Be Polite (Menucha Publishers, 2022), A Bridge in Time (Menucha Publishing, 2021), Secrets in Disguise (Menucha Publishers, 2020), 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 Binah Magazine and Binyan Magazine, “Moon Song” in Binyan (2021-2022), and Alaskan Gold ( 2023-2024).