| Encore |

Encore: Chapter 18

Dovi Korman was positioned on top of a large desk, a hand-me-down from the hotel, and he was holding court

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he moving truck had pulled out of the long driveway leading to the road hours earlier and already, the small staff house felt different, Sholom thought.

“Home is wherever you are, Penina,” Sholom Wasser burst out, a bit uncomfortable with himself, but also pleased at the turn of phrase. Penina looked up from the corner of the room, where she was sliding shelves into a bookcase, and raised her eyebrows.

“Oh, wow, that’s nice,” she said and got back to work, stepping back to examine if she’d placed the shelves far enough from one another.

Sholom was still looking at her, so she turned back to face him. “Thanks, Sholom,” she said, “that means a lot. I’m excited to be here. Did you speak to Ephraim yet?”

He looked around at the pictures already on the wall, his old green corduroy-covered armchair in the corner of the tiny family room, and felt inspired.

“Yes,” he said, “I’m calling him right now. This second, mamash.” As if to assure her of his seriousness, he waved his phone in the air and stepped out on to the porch.

Penina had that effect on him: you couldn’t watch her move, move, move, crossing chores off some huge checklist visible only to her, and not feel motivated.

The “Ephraim plan” intrigued him. His nephew in Lakewood looked like he could use a change of scenery, for sure, but that wasn’t reason enough to ask him to come to Modena. Nor was the fact that Penina had come up with it, another one of her perfect solutions, win/win/win, as she called it, even though this ability of hers amazed him. The only factor, according to Sholom Wasser’s way of thinking, was what would be good for Ephraim, nothing else.

His nephew answered on the fourth ring, just when he was about to hang up. Sholom felt a little bubble of fear for some reason, but he swallowed hard.

“Hello, Ephraim, it’s Uncle Sholom, how are you?”

 

Chezky Lorb, the yeshivah’s gabbai and, by extension, the rosh yeshivah’s chosen messenger, tapped gently on the door of room 114, the names of its residents written in black marker on a folded piece of white paper: Tishler, Harrari, Bass.

“Come in,” Duddy Tishler called out, “come join the party.”

Dovi Korman was positioned on top of a large desk, a hand-me-down from the hotel, and he was holding court.

“So basically, the game is that we go to the dining room for lunch, right? And whoever it is, let’s say, Wagner, or whichever rando is sitting at the table — the challenge is that you have to get him to say a certain word in conversation. So we choose a word now, and the game is on, you have five minutes from when you sit down to get Wagner to say the word ‘eyeball.’ Maskim?”

Boruch Zeldman collapsed onto a swivel armchair, spinning around and roaring with laughter. “Oh, man — do you remember when you made me do it? And I had to get the math teacher to say the word ‘Drano’? Good times….”

Chezky, specifically chosen for his job by the rosh yeshivah because of his reserved nature, stood there, reveling in the matzav in the room. Dovi Korman seemed to invent new games every day, sweeping half the yeshivah into his orbit, and Chezky was always happy to have reasons to interact with him.

Tishler rubbed his chin. “Okay, I’m in, it’s a deal. What are we betting for?”

Korman considered this as if he was deciding whether to invest his life savings in Apple or Microsoft, then he clapped his hands.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 801)

 

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