Monday, March 14, 2005

Second Installment...

The following is the second installment of a fiction piece I have been working on, tentatively entitled, "The Yellow Gate." Click here to read the first installment, or just scroll down...

Part One (cont'd)

"Shalom, laila tov," came the pre-emptive reply from the Israeli woman, swaddled in what looked like a paisley tablecloth from southeast Asia, her children blinking listlessly through the minivan's dust-covered window at the slack-jawed American dope with his unloaded rifle. He probably doesn’t even know how to load the thing, their drooping eyelashes seemed to jeer. The van lurched away, stopping again a few feet away from the main security bunker to disgorge a portly, bearded little man wearing a black, wide-brimmed Borsalino.

“Hi Oz,” Yermiahu said, covering his nose from the dust that swirled up behind the van’s taillights.

“Prophet of Doom, how goes it?” the man replied, swaggering with the weight of the large leather briefcase in his hand. His voice resonated with the consistency of a buttery porridge spiked with gravel, grinding itself up and outward from the depths of his kishkes with an unembarrassed self-satisfaction that Yermiahu had never quite been able to manufacture within his own kishkes.

“The end is nigh, as always,” said Yermiahu, parroting his Biblical namesake with an unapologetic sneer, “The glass is not only half-empty, it’s leaking all over the fuckin’ place.” He raised his arm to indicate the mountain of rubble before them, and then poked out his thumb with a mock desire to hitch with the receding minivan. “That looked like a fun ride.”

“Dude, that woman was South African,” Oz grinned, gesticulating with a spontaneous fervor that instantly overwhelmed Yermiahu’s threshold for interpersonal attentiveness. Oz’s words, already pouring out too quickly and excitedly to register as discrete sequences of meaning, became a series of frantic, amorphous sonic explosions that shattered Yermiahu’s tenuous ability to piece them together. “Her father was in the R.A.F. in World War II, and was one of the first settlers who made it to Chevron after the ’67 war! And her husband, this even crazier guy, was court-martialed by the Israeli Army after he tried to plant bombs in an Arab village near Shechem during the first Intifada… then he was, like in jail for 3 years, made teshuva, got a full pardon because his uncle knew someone in Begin’s administration, and he came up here and helped to start this settlement in ’91 with no money, no car, just a tent and a generator and a copy of Likutei Tefillos… freakin’ awesome, man…!” Oz was already halfway out of breath, his final exclamation vaporizing the last lingering vestiges of Yermiahu’s train of thought.

“Wow!” Yermiahu cried, into the infinitesimal space just between Oz’s head and the rest of the universe.

“Yeah,” said Oz, shifting his attention to the mountain of brown and yellow wreckage before them. “What in God's name did they do up here, anyway?”

“A whole lotta nothin’, if you ask me,” said Yermiahu, relieved to change subjects, fishing inside his pocket for something. “It’s not like there was any point to the thing even being there in the first frikkin’ place.”

“I know, without a security fence or anything, I guess they just had to comply with the mo’etza’s rules, right? Did someone tell them that they could take it down now?”

“Hell if I know, man!” He stuck a crushed Winston between his lips and continued fishing. “All I know is, a whole gaggle of those dumb-asses were trying to move it away from the road yesterday with one of those freaking Bobcats, and it was the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” cackled Yermiahu, obviously relieved that it was finally his turn to tell a story. “They couldn’t even lift up one end of the gate without the other end swinging around like a fucking boom… it was regular three-ring Israeli circus up here! I just wanna know what they plan on doing with it now.” He struck his match, guarding it carefully from the mountain wind.

“You still smoke?” winced Oz, fanning the oncoming cloud.

“Why, you want one?”

“Nah, I quit. You should, too. You think your kallah will like it if you smoke?”

Yermiahu sneered, momentarily calling forth the elusive, transmigratory vision he had always had, but never been able to precisely recognize, of the gentle, graceful brunette whose sighs and caresses and placations he had dreamt of and imitated to himself endlessly within the paper-thin walls of his trailer at night. “Yeah, I guess I should start coming to shacharis in the morning too, huh. Lots of things I should be doing...”


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