| Encore |

Encore: Chapter 15

Faced with the angry doctor, the desperate Boruch, and the dog, Dovi found himself thinking of his father

 

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oach Perensky was doing a thing and it was making Sholom Wasser nervous, though he wasn’t sure what was wrong with it. Chezky Lorb had prepared a massive bowl of hard-boiled eggs for breakfast, and the bochurim were arguing about the best way to peel an egg so that it doesn’t come apart. Dovi Korman and Chaim Dov Jacobs were using spoons, and it seemed to be working, but Perensky — always a clown — clearly needed to pull the attention back toward him and insisted everyone watch his show.

“This is the best mehalech you’ll ever see,” he announced, looking right to left, making sure no one was looking anywhere else. “Now watch closely.”

He did something to the top of the shell and then to the bottom of the shell and suddenly, the egg flew out and he caught it like a ball. The guys started clapping, and suddenly, everyone was running to get more hard-boiled eggs.

On another day, Sholom Wasser might have enjoyed the sight of his bochurim laughing, even felt a little rush of happiness at Noach Perensky getting a chance to shine.

Not today.

Today had started at 1:09 a.m. with frantic knocking on his door, and Terrence and a police officer standing there. It had only gone downhill since.

Rabbi Wasser had asked for a moment to put himself together — never let your talmidim see you without a jacket and tie, his old menahel used to caution them — but he barely had time to put on a shirt before following them out, trying to figure out what had happened.

The police officer looked like he’d been woken up too, and he was groggy and near incoherent. Some boys from the school, it seemed, had been walking on the nearby property, which belonged to Hudson Animal Care and Dr. Redgrove Garvey, who lived behind his practice. Dr. Garvey, who’d been bored since the motel had closed down, leaving him no one to fight with, was out like a bolt of lightning, alerted by the alarms he’d installed around the perimeter of his property.

It was Boruch Zeldman’s misfortune that Dr. Garvey, who came brandishing a baseball bat, speaking into a two-way-radio he kept near his bed for just a situation, was a fervent anti-smoking activist. As Dr. Garvey neared the bochurim, he saw the cigarette butt falling from Boruch’s hand.

“Trespassing, nice, illegal dumping, also a violation,” Dr. Garvey said with relish, as if listing the flavors in an ice-cream parlor. “And then we clearly have hazardous material, posing a danger to me and our clients. Hope you got yourself a good lawyer, buddy.”

Boruch Zeldman opened his mouth to talk, but nothing came out. He squawked in fear as Dr. Garvey’s dog came lumbering up and started to eye him suspiciously. Boruch looked helplessly at Dovi Korman.

Faced with the angry doctor, the desperate Boruch, and the dog, Dovi found himself thinking of his father saying, “Faigy, I’ll handle this,” leaning forward and making a little waving gesture with his hands when the gardener had come storming up the stairs screaming that Shloimy had scratched his truck with his bike.

“It’s a new truck and your son broke it, that little animal, he broke my new truck, two days ago I got it. He didn’t care, just let his bike fall and scratch it, he has no education,” Mr. Lucelli had said this all without stopping for breath. He would have gone on speaking if Tatty hadn’t stepped forward.

Shielding Mommy with his body, Avi Korman had placed a firm hand on Mr. Lucelli’s shoulder and said, “Okay, but there’s no reason to scream, get ahold of yourself, sir. We’ll make it right, but first speak like a human being, and lower your voice. No one died.”

Mr. Lucelli, who had three inches on Avi Korman, had visibly wilted, apologizing again and again and bowing to Faigy Korman. The next day he’d come with flowers and the incident had lived on in Korman family lore, Avi getting animated as he reiterated its lesson: “You stay calm, demand respect and you’ll get respect.”

This was Dovi’s moment.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 798)

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