| Dream On |

Dream On: Chapter 48

Tammy fell silent. She had no idea where Devoiry could find 500,000 shekels


Tammy pushed Shimmy’s stroller into Devoiry’s store. Her friend hadn’t responded to her phone calls the past few days; the only thing left to do was confront her in person to find out what was going on.

Ilana was helping a customer, and brightened when she saw Tammy. “Hey, welcome. You came to buy a new tichel?”

Tammy was pleased to register the change from Ilana’s usually sarcastic tone. “Actually, I came to speak to Devoiry. Is she here?”

“No, she’s not.” Ilana glanced at the customer, then took a step closer to Tammy. “Do you know Devoiry?”

“Yeah, we’re friends. Do you know when she’s expected back?”

Ilana bit her lip. Lowering her voice, she said, “She hasn’t been here in a few days. She’s been calling and giving me instructions by phone.”

Tammy’s eyes widened. “Is she sick?”

“She said she’s not feeling well, but…” Ilana rubbed her nose. “It’s not like her.”

“No, it’s not.” Tammy glanced at her. “You’re worried?”

Ilana hesitated. “Um… see, we got this wacko phone call the other day.”

Tammy nodded. “ZeeZee told me about it.”

Ilana’s face cleared. “Oh. Good.” She ran a hand through her hair. “So, ever since then, Devoiry’s stayed away from the store. It looks like that call really freaked her out.”

Tammy frowned. This situation was getting increasingly concerning. “I’m going over to her house,” she said. “Can you check her address in the Newcomers Guide?”

Ilana pressed some buttons on her phone and a few minutes later Tammy and Shimmy were in a cab.

Devoiry didn’t answer her knock, nor the first two times she rang the bell. But after the third ring, she heard footsteps approaching the door. After a short pause, it opened.

“Tammy! What are you doing here?”

“I came to visit. I heard you’re not feeling well. Okay if I come in?”

Devoiry stuck her head out for a brief glance at the hallway behind Tammy. Seeing it was empty, she ushered Tammy inside and quickly closed and locked the door. Then she sat down on the couch, gesturing for Tammy to do the same. Tammy noticed that all the window shades were closed tightly.

“To what do I owe this pleasure?” Devoiry asked, with a smile that didn’t quite reach her eyes.

Tammy peered at her. In the light of the room, she saw just how wan her friend looked.

“You really do look sick,” she blurted.

“How’d you know I was sick?” Devoiry asked.

“Ilana told me. I came to your store to speak to you.”

“About what?”

Tammy kept her eyes trained on Shimmy, who was cruising along the edge of the couch, as she said carefully, “About why you’re getting threatening phone calls, and what I can do to help you.”

There was silence in the room for several long moments. Tammy continued watching Shimmy, giving Devoiry her space.

“Ilana told you?” she asked finally.

“No, ZeeZee. The girl who was with Ilana. She goes to Shvilei,” Tammy added, in response to Devoiry’s questioning look.

“Does she? I thought she looked familiar. I think I met her at my mother’s.” Devoiry began to play with the fringe on her couch pillow. “So what do you want to know? It was a nasty prank call.”

Tammy leaned forward. “Excuse me, but prank calls don’t send people into hiding.”

Devoiry’s cheeks reddened. “I’m sick.”

“Uh-huh. That’s why you’re terrified to open the door? Why you’re keeping your trissim closed in the middle of the day?”

Devoiry turned her head away. Tammy sank back, worried that she’d gone too far.

“Listen,” she said, in a softer voice. “If you don’t want to tell me, you can say so.”

“I told you, there’s nothing to tell.” Devoiry’s head was still averted. “Can you please leave me alone?”

Stung, but left with no choice, Tammy slowly stood up.

“Come, Shimmy,” she said softly, scooping him up. As she reached the door, she sent one more glance around the dim room, and its prisoner lying on the couch. You’ve failed her.

She took one last stab. “If you do ever feel like talking…” She stopped at the sound of a muffled sob. “Devoiry?”

Her friend’s eyes were red and beseeching.

“Don’t… don’t go. I’m going crazy with anxiety.”

She waved her hand in the air, and Tammy reached out for it. “I’m here. Tell me what’s going on.”

Devoiry closed her eyes, and tears trickled out of them. After a moment, she said, “I’ve gotten myself into deep, deep trouble.” She began to sob, and Tammy waited, squeezing her hand in sympathy.

“I… I needed money so badly,” Devoiry gasped. “The bank wouldn’t lend us any because we had zero credit. My husband’s friend knew someone who would lend us 200,000 shekels, as long as we had a guarantor. So I asked my parents.”

“Your parents?” Tammy echoed. Mrs. Edelman didn’t strike her as the kind of woman with 200,000 shekels lying around.

“What was I supposed to do?” Devoiry pulled her hand away from Tammy. “Other people all seem to have rich parents or grandparents who can help them out, but Avi and I don’t. Neither of our families have any money.” She hugged the pillow close. “Believe me, my parents were hesitant to sign on to something they couldn’t commit to, but I convinced them we’d have the money to pay it back.”

She gave a bitter laugh. “But I totally miscalculated how much I needed for my start-up costs. The rent is so high, and you have to give discounts at the beginning to get people to buy from you. It came time to make the first payment on our loan, and I didn’t have it.”

She buried her head in the pillow, and her voice came out muffled. “I was terrified this guy would ask my parents for the money. I knew my mother hadn’t really approved of my whole business venture to begin with.”

Tammy raised an eyebrow.

“You know my mother. Is she the type to cheer me on for leaving chinuch in order to sell luxury accessories?

“No,” Tammy conceded. Though having gotten to know Mrs. Edelman better these past few weeks, she thought Devoiry’s mother had a lot more understanding and empathy for others than her daughter was giving her credit for. “So what’d you do?”

“Avi’s friend had another guy for us. This one was willing to lend us whatever we wanted, no guarantors, nothing.”

Tammy frowned. “And that didn’t sound fishy to you?”

“I didn’t let myself think about it. It was like the answer to all my problems. I could pay off the first loan, get my parents out of the picture, and have extra money to cover my expenses until I started turning the corner on my profits.” Her face crumpled. “You must think I’m so stupid. Well, I’m paying for it now.”

She began to cry again as Tammy watched, horrified to think of the terrible mess Devoiry was in. At last, she asked softly, “How much money do you owe?”

“Total? About 500,000 shekel.”

Tammy gasped.

“It keeps going up, the interest rate is so high,” Devoiry added. “But we don’t need to pay all of it back right now. Just the first installment. Still, that’s like 30,000 shekel, which I don’t have. So I’ve been pushing them off.” She closed her eyes. “I guess they didn’t like that.”

Tammy shuddered as she remembered what ZeeZee had told her about the phone call. “Thirty thousand shekel? That’s not so much,” she murmured. Her mind started racing as she considered possibilities. She and Yehuda had a mere 500 shekels in their bank account, but surely there were others…

“And two weeks from now will be another 30,000, and then 50,000, and the debt will keep rising.” Devoiry wiped her eyes. “I just want to pay the whole thing off and start with a clean slate.”

“Can you take out a mortgage on your apartment?”

“We already have one. What, you think my parents could afford to buy us an apartment in Yerushalayim?”

Tammy fell silent. She had no idea where Devoiry could find 500,000 shekels. But she also knew that if her friend had chosen her to confide in, she needed to help. And fast.

She placed a hand on Devoiry’s shoulder. “It’s not hopeless,” she said. “We’re going to find a way to get you out of this.”

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 766)

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