Poetica Magazine    

 

 Contemporary Jewish Writing

Adina Siperman

 

Unjust Piece

 

     His finger hit the play. The once blurry image took focus on the screen. A grey haired man with teary eyes held up a champagne glass.

     "Mazal tov to my gorgeous son, my Oded and his new wife, Orit. It's difficult for me to believe that I'm toasting at his wedding. He was a baby just last week. He was released from the army yesterday. And now he is that big, strong, healthy, married man standing right there."

     Elad pressed stop on the editing machine. He sighed deeply and lit a cigarette, resting his feet on the edge of the desk. So many happy occasions – weddings, bar mitzvahs, birthday parties – and Elad watched them all through his video camera lens. Thousands of hours of celebration viewed at a distance.

     The buzzer on the door blared. Elad walked over to the intercom and pressed the microphone.

     "Yes?"

     "Elad Klein? The videographer?"

     "Yes?"

     "I'm Roey Mizrachi. We have an appointment at four at the café downstairs. The waitress told me that you live here right above. Since I'm already in the neighbourhood, I thought that we could move it up and maybe discuss the price."

     Elad looked down at his watch that read one-thirty.

     "Let me in," Roey spoke close to the speaker.

     Elad pushed the button to open the front door of the apartment building that was both his home and studio. There was a sharp knock and in entered an overweight man dressed in a white tank top and jeans. The back of his sandals dragged across the tiled floor as he walked into the apartment.

     While Elad reached his hand out to greet the perspective client, Roey studied his face.

     "Do I know you?"

     Elad looked Roey over and shook his head. "No, I don't think so."

     Roey's eyes narrowed, inspecting Elad's shaggy hair, thick beard and startling blue eyes. "Did you study at Galili in Kfar Saba? Perhaps you know my daughter, Ronit Mizrachi?"

     "No, no. I'm not from Kfar Saba. I don't know any Ronit Mizrachi." Elad walked over to his small kitchen. "Can I get you something to drink? Coffee? Water?"

     "I'll take a black coffee."

     Elad returned three minutes later with two small glasses of thick coffee. Handing one to Roey, he said, "So, you called about recording video for your parents' 50th wedding anniversary."

     "Yeah. It'll be on September 21st at this restaurant in Yaffo… I'm sorry, but this is driving me crazy. Why is your face so familiar to me? You don't know me at all? Do you go to the doctor's office on Arlozarov?"

     Elad sighed and pursed his lips together. "Listen, I have a common face. That's it. I don't know you." He turned towards his desk and began rummaging through papers. "I'm going to give you a price list. Depending on how many people…"

     With Elad's back turned, Roey took the liberty of walking through the small apartment. He stopped in front of a bookshelf that held several picture frames.

     Elad continued to sift through piles of papers. "I'm sorry. I just printed a new list that is somewhere on…"

     "Tomer Shinear?"

     Elad raised his head sharply at the mention of the name. He found Roey holding a picture of him and his mother on a recent trip to Bulgaria.

     "Are you Tomer Shinear? You are, aren't you? I recognize your mother from all the news casts."

     Elad's shoulders fell, and he stopped sifting through the papers. Roey walked over to him, still holding the picture frame.

     "No fucking way. Tomer. Tomer Shinear. We were just talking about you the other day, wondering whatever happened to you. On Yom HaZikaron, they just showed that movie that they made of you on TV." Roey inspected Elad's face even more closely. "There were all those years of your parents on TV and the few videos that they released of you. That huge operation and all the celebrations and then nothing."

     Elad drummed his fingers against the wall. "Yes, yes. I know."

     "I remember a few years after I saw you at a ceremony in Kikar Rabin. You lit a candle."

     "I'm sure I did."

     "You know, my wife's cousin's son was part of the team that got you out of there."

     "Thanks. To your wife's cousin's son."

     "I mean, he worked in the office of the unit. But you need administration to pull off an operation like that." Roey looked around the apartment again. "So this is what you've been doing? Working as a videographer? You didn't want to work for the army?"

     "No. I didn't."

     "Yeah, of course I can understand that you don't want to be an officer or something like that. But you didn't want to work for them as a representative? Something in PR or public speaking on their behalf?"

     "No. I didn't." Elad shifted his weight from foot to foot.

     "It's funny. You see all those other people who've been taken hostage. Like that political woman in Columbia or Brazil or wherever she was from, and they have speaking fees and write books and make movies of the books that they wrote. You didn't do any of that. You sure could have made a lot of money."

     Elad stared at Roey. "I suppose I could have."

     "So, why are you going by Elad Klein?"

     Elad clenched his teeth together and took a deep breath. He spoke slowly, "So that I don't have to have this conversation every time a new client invites himself in my home." His voice began to rise. "Or every time that I go to the bakery or the dentist or to buy a fucking pack of cigarettes. I don't need people telling me how to make money off of being held hostage, because I was in the wrong fucking place at the wrong fucking time."

     Roey held his hands up. "Whoa, hey, brother. Calm down. I get it. It must be hard being a national hero. I hear you, brother. I understand."

     They stood for a few moments in silence. Roey inspected the familiar face that everyone in Israel had come to know so well. The bags under Tomer's eyes were dark and heavy. His shaggy hair and beard hid the once so recognizable features. He had aged since that iconic picture his parents had give the media of the night before he entered the army. But it was undoubtedly the face of Tomer Shinear. Elad stared out at the slit of sunshine that poked through the drawn drapes.

     "Listen, Tom- Elad. You got the job. Don't worry about the price list. You're hired."

     Elad turned to look at Roey. "Okay. Maybe I'll just email you the list."

     "Sure thing, brother." Roey shook Elad's hand strongly. "You email me the list and we'll work out all the details. Hey, would you mind, though, if I took a picture of you? Just to show my wife's cousin and them. He would be -"

     "Get out. Get the fuck out of my house," Elad screamed and pushed Roey towards the door. "Don't come back. Fuck the job. Just get out of my house." He pushed Roey out the door and slammed it behind him.

     Elad took a deep breath, lit a cigarette and sat back down at his desk to finish editing the Segev wedding.