* Erotic Fiction
* Queer Fiction
* Kinky Erotica
* The Softer Side
By Alice Gray
The Fourth Veda
By Amanda Earl
Beating the Gothic Out of Her
Mercy and the Man. . .
Sex With An Old Woman
The Afternoon Circle Jerk Society
The Graffiti Artist
The Vampire Responds
By Ann Regentin
What Never Dies
By Arthur Chappell
Tedia, Goddess of Boredom
The Too Beautiful Boy
By Big Ed Magusson
Like a Brother
By B.K. Bilicki
Shades of Night
By Brady Sutton
Girls for Leash
The Peculiar Case of...
By C. Sanchez-Garcia
An Early Winter Train
Riding the Dog
The Girl With Kisses...
The Lady and The Unicorn
You Belong to Me
An Evening At...
Are You Kidding?
Bitsy Takes a Test
Cruising On A Sea...
Fridays At The Benoit
Mr. Merridawn's Hum
Readiness Is All
By Cherry Black
Just A Simple Black Dress
By Chris Bridges
By Daddy X
A Woman in My Position
Never For Punishment
Nikki Didn't Like It
By Dominic Santi
Kiss of Peace
By G. E. Russell
First Love, Last Romance
The Glass Cage
This Desolate Eden
You Like It Like That...
By Helen E. H. Madden
Husbands and Wives
Neighbor of the Beast
Over the Rainbow
The Fifth Horseman
The Monster Beneath...
When The Angels Fall
By Helena Settimana
The Space Between
By Huck Pilgrim
A Small Favor
He Sends His Regrets
By J.T. Benjamin
Advice From Miss Millicent
Secret Lives and Lusts
What are Friends For
Olivia's Ulterior Motive
The Baby Doll
The Journals of Chastity
Thornburg Sex Survey
Zachary's Perfect Date
A House On Fire?
It's About Sex
Maureen and Sheila...
Sheila Discusses ...
By john e
I Wish My Dick...
johnny's jackoff journal
In Praise of Pussy
Tight, Tighter, Tightest
You Rang Madam?
By Juniper Maclay
By Keziah Hill
Laying Down the Law
Strawberry Flavoured Joy
The Second Coming
By L.A. Smith
By Lara Nickles
By Lilie Berlin
Color Less Ordinary
Naughty Little Girl
By Mairead Devereux
new War Wounds
By Mike Kimera
At the Adult Bookstore
It May Not be Art...
Living With It...
Paying For It
Playing With Barney
Sex with Owen
Till Death Do Us Part
The Last Taboo
By Nan Andrews
By Nick Nicholson
Grigore & Tatiana
Land of Smiles
By Nikki Isaak
A Rathskeller Jar
The Dread That Stained Kalos
Androids Behaving Badly
Eat Your Veggies
I Am Not A Scorpion
Maybe You Can Go...
The Vow Part I
The Vow Part II - Fiend in Need
What Would Aristippus Think
By Raziel Moore
Invisible Lines (Novella)
Fiend in Need
Sequel to The Vow
by Oxartes © 2010
Note From the Author:
This is the sequel to "The Vow." Being
a sequel, I don't know how well "Fiend in Need" would stand on its
own. It picks up characters, places & themes from "The Vow" &
refers to the events of "The Vow" all throughout
Like "The Vow," "Fiend
in Need" takes place in the orthodox Jewish community in
Brooklyn. Links follow at the end of
each section; if you come across a word, phrase, etc. that you don't
recognize, chances are there's a link. But, to get you started:
A "get" is a bill of divorce, a "chumash" is a usually smallish bound
book edition of one or all five sections of the Torah, "rebbetzin" is
what you call a rabbi's wife & a "shidduch" is an arranged match;
check the links for detail
Anything in *asterisks* is in lieu of italic
In the last section, I
tie in characters from Robert Buckley's excellent "Paladins", which
may be read at (http://www.erotica-readers.com/GD/TC-EF/Paladins.htm).
I thank Bob for graciously allowing me to borrow some of his
I hope y'all enjoy "Fiend in Need" (popping
an ice cold
http://www.shmaltz.com/HEBREW/index.html might help);
I had a ball writing it.
Silverstein completed that new wing of Ner Israel's girls' school in
Brooklyn, on the site of Esther's building, in record time, not long after
Rabbi Asher and I had unveiled that new granite headstone on Esther's
My life had settled back into its pre-Esther routine.
Another cheating spouse, or cheating business partner, to get the goods
on. Another bastard blackmailing his wife over a *get* to be persuaded to
see the error of his ways. Another runaway, from a supposedly good family
(they're always good) to track down. It never changed. I spilled my guts
to Sam Gold early one Wednesday morning as I drove him and his elderly
father Max to the Gold family bagel bakery after prayers at Rabbi Asher's
"The shit that I see, that I have to deal with as a PI.
The lying, the cheating, the depravity! But my clients wear yarmulkes, and
the women wear long dresses. They keep kosher. They learn Torah. They go
"That didn't stop that goniff bastard Madoff," Sam
"Yeah, but it should have!" I replied, "It should
have. You'd think that this," I pulled my yarmulke off my head and waved
it, "and that," I pointed to my chumash, which Sam was holding, "would
mean *something*! And they come to me and I have to wade through their
shit and then see them on the street or read about them at the synagogue
dinner, Mr. Pillar-of-the-Community. And *they* look down on *me* because
I'm newly-observant, because I wasn't raised orthodox? What chutzpah! It
boils me! Maybe this is some kind of test?"
"Could be," Sam replied
as I pulled up in front of the bakery.
Sam and I helped Max to his
usual corner table and gave him the morning papers, which had been dropped
off earlier. Sam went to brew some coffee. I sat in one of the booths and
opened my chumash to the weekly Torah portion.
A few minutes later,
Sam was back. "Here ya' go, Pop." He poured Max a mug of black filter
coffee and then asked me, "You still want that 40-weight Israeli mud?"
I nodded. "I picked up *something* useful on that singles tour."
"You know that Rabbi Asher meant well."
"I don't doubt it."
"So lighten...ah, here they are," Sam said, looking at the door, "Time
to boil and bake."
"They" would be Roscoe and Joline, Sam's
long-time employees but only Roscoe entered.
"Where Joline?" Sam
"Beats me. She wasn't on the A. I dunno. Hey Max, hey
I wagged a finger at Roscoe.
one day you're gonna kick the shit out of me, I know."
Roscoe was a
pal. He followed Sam into the back, leaving Max and I alone out front.
I went back to my chumash. There was a commotion at the door. Joline
entered followed by two men who were hassling her.
"Get away from
"But where's my money, honey?"
"I ain't your honey no
more, you crackhead loser, and I don't owe you shit!"
It was her
worthless ex and some friend of his. The friend was fingering something in
his jacket pocket. Not good. I stood up and addressed Joline's ex. "Hit
the road and take genius here," I pointed to his friend, "with you."
"You jes go back to your book, my heebie homeboy, and mind yer own
I took out a handkerchief...
"Whatcha gonna do? Blow my nose?"
...and folded it over the corner
of my hardcover chumash. "No, bust it." I slammed it upwards into the base
of his nose, hard. Blood gushed.
The friend pulled a switchblade.
"Don't or I'll blow your fuckin' head off," I snarled, pulling my
Smith & Wesson M&P .357 from my right-side shoulder holster and pointing
it at him. "Toss it on the table."
The friend complied.
"Stay the fuck away from Joline," I said, lowering my book and holding it
so that Sam, who had rushed out with Roscoe, could remove the bloody
handkerchief. I gestured for him to give it to Joline's ex, "or I'll hunt
you down, make sure I'm defending myself, and blow you a couple of new
"Deal, no sweat," he said, wiping his nose, "But you and me,
we ain't done, not by
"Yeah, yeah; whatever," I
growled. What was two more enemies? "Just get the fuck outta here."
The tweedledeedipshits took off.
"My man! Yeah!" Roscoe
exclaimed. We traded high fives.
"You OK, Pop?" Sam asked Max.
"Bahh. Alex shoulda blown both their heads off. Woulda been an
improvement." He went back to the Post.
We all smiled.
"Thank you, Alex," Joline said. She went to kiss me on the cheek but
stopped short when I backed up a step. "Oh, sorry."
I waved her
off. I holstered my piece and gave her one of my cards, "Just in case Dumb
and Dumber bother you again."
She nodded. "Bring you your usual as
soon as it's ready?"
My 'usual' was a fresh, hot whole-wheat bagel.
Sam looked up. "You're not staying?"
gotta head over to Ner Israel."
"To see Rabbi Wasserman?"
"No, to see Rebbetzin Wasserman."
Wasserman was the principal of Ner Israel's girls' high schooI. I shrugged
my shoulders. "She wouldn't say."
"It's all business with her; good
"Thanks." I filled my cup with some '40-weight Israeli mud'
as Sam had so charmingly called it and walked the three blocks to Ner
Israel. "All business" was Sam's polite way of saying that the lady was a
hardass. What she wanted from me, I had no idea.
secretary showed me right into her office and shut the door behind her.
"Ah, Detective Levy, have a seat."
I sat down in a chair that
had been pulled right up to her desk.
"You know that the school
year starts next month."
She slid a folder across the
desk. "Devorah Malka. I want to hire her as my physical education
"Open it; read."
I opened the
file. The first page was an official New York State Department of
Correctional Services prisoner file.
"Where did you get this?"
"Devorah Malka, aka Debbie King...one-and-a-half years
at Taconic Correctional Facility. OxyContin...plead to possession,
distribution and criminal conspiracy. Raped by her dealer..."
she turned in, which helped prompt the DA's leniency in return for her
I kept reading. "Two years' probation...model
prisoner...worked with facility's Jewish chaplain, Rabbi Aaron Wasserman
and his assistant for women's affairs, Mrs. Rebecca Wasserman, MSW...aha."
"I believe that Devorah wants to turn her life around. She sincerely
believes that God has offered her a second chance. She has become
orthodox; as far as someone else can appreciate such things, her faith
appears to be genuine."
"Albany is letting her teach again? A drugs
offender on parole?"
"I'm sure that no public school would dare
hire her but I'm hiring her."
I knew that the rules for religious
schools were a little different but still. "You must've had to call in a
lot of favors to get her license back, even provisionally."
Rebbetzin Wasserman nodded. "In addition to meeting all the usual parole
conditions, I have to pass her with flying colors after each quarter. If
she clears the parole board, and me, she gets her permanent license back."
"So what do you want from me?"
"Interview her. Talk to her
parole officer. Tell me she's not playing me. I'm as far out on a limb for
her as I can possibly be, with Albany, with the board, with the parents.
Be the rabbi; tell me she's kosher."
"Why are you doing this?"
"The Talmud says that whoever saves even one life, it's as if..."
"They've saved the entire world. You're trying to save the world?"
"No, just Devorah Malka. I think she's legitimate but I need to be
I looked at the folder.
"I will pay your standard fee
for a background check, not Ner Israel Institutions but me personally."
I waved her off. "Give it to your scholarship fund for poor students."
My accountant said I had to cut out the nice guy shit but I couldn't take
Rebbetzin Wasserman's money. Besides, this looked like a no-brainer. Talk
to her parole officer, talk to her, piece of cake. I probably wouldn't
even have to call Carl, my computer geek, to dig up the dirt on her.
"Her parole officer's details are on page three. Devorah will meet you
at Sam Gold's bakery tomorrow morning."
"You don't waste any time."
"I have none to waste. School starts in three weeks."
indeed. I took the folder and rose to leave. "I'll call you."
I was at the door when I turned around. "Wait a minute.
You're not trying to fix me up with her, are you?"
this is a job. I have a well-deserved reputation for being all business.
Good. I was out the door.
I stuck my head back in. "Yes?"
Like Rabbi Asher and that ill-fated singles trip to Israel, I knew
Rebbetzin Wasserman meant well. I certainly had no prejudice against
Devorah for being an ex-con but I resented it that people kept trying to
fix me up at every opportunity.
I called Devorah's
parole officer. She backed up Rebbetzin Wasserman and said that Devorah
was a dream parolee. She passed every random drug test and never missed a
meeting of her ex-user support group. She lived alone in her parents' old
brownstone in Brooklyn; her parents were deceased. She had a sister in
Chicago. I thought of calling her but decided not to.
morning, Sam, Max and I drove up to the bakery after prayers. Devorah was
waiting out front. She bore little resemblance to her mug shot in the
folder. She wore a long pleated skirt and a below-the-elbow length blouse.
Her curly hair lay about her shoulders. She was pretty.
introduced her to Sam and Max. She took a seat in one of the booths while
Sam and I helped Max to his table. I sat across from her while Sam went to
Surprisingly, Devorah spurned the filter coffee that
Sam brought for Max and asked
for the high-octane Israeli brew that I
"The stuff at Taconic was always watery," she said after Sam
went to make her some.
Roscoe and Joline arrived and went back with
Sam, leaving Devorah and I alone up front with Max.
Where to start?
Damn, it was awkward. I knew it was a job but it felt like a shidduch.
Devorah broke the ice. "I know why we're here. I don't blame Rebbetzin
"She's taking an awful risk with you."
God sent her and Rabbi Wasserman to give me a second chance..."
Interesting way to put it.
"...I won't screw it up. Ask me whatever
"OK. How..." I was about to ask her about how she felt
being under everyone's microscope when she cut in.
"Wait, do you
have a small scar right here," she pointed to the corner of her left jaw,
just below her ear, "under your beard?"
Now how the hell..."That
"Um, yeah." She blushed. "I'm sorry. I was aiming for
Enrique. I didn't recognize you at first just now; the beard must be new."
It was; I grew it when I sat shiva for Leslie. Of course; it all came
back to me! Joey and I were cruising the neighborhood when dispatch
radioed and said that some hysterical junkie had called to rat out her
dealer and begged someone to come right away and bag him, his stash and
his books. Joey and I were only one block away and went right over. We
heard a whale of an argument and what sounded like a woman getting the
daylights beaten out of her. We burst in just in time for me to catch a
piece of glass from a vase that Devorah had thrown at Enrique Jimenez, her
lowlife dealer, who happened to be standing right next to the door. He
bolted for the fire escape, tripped and went splat on Fourth Avenue, six
floors below. No loss to society.
I actually smiled. "Debbie
"I changed it when I decided to change."
"I really am sorry."
"No, no, it's OK."
Joline brought us bagels, cream cheese and smoked salmon. Devorah and I
talked while we ate. She was legit, no doubt about it. I also had no doubt
that I liked her and wanted to see her, not on the job, her having scarred
me for life, literally, notwithstanding. God bless Rebbetzin Wasserman.
"So, do I pass?"
"Oh, sure. Good luck at Ner Israel."
"Listen, would you like to go out for dinner sometime,
"Like on a date?"
"There's a nice dairy restaurant..."
Kosher food was a huge problem at Taconic. I was a vegetarian for 1.5
years. I'm sick of vegetables. So, please, meat."
Honest and to the
point. I liked that. "Well, we're drinking this stuff," I waved my glass
with coffee sediment at the bottom, "There's a great Israeli steak joint
over on King's Boulevard."
"I'll pick you up at,
"Also perfect. I'll see you then." Devorah rose and
I watched her go and didn't notice that Roscoe had come out
front to clear our table.
"You supposed to be working."
"Is that what they call it?" Roscoe chuckled, cleared
the table and went back to the kitchen.
"I agree." That was Max.
"Looks to be a cute tuchis under that skirt. Oh
yeah, she's for real."
I smiled. Max was right, on both counts.
I went over to Ner Israel to see Rebbetzin Wasserman.
"She's kosher, very. She'll be fine. She'll work hard. I don't think
you have anything to worry about."
Rebbetzin Wasserman was OK.
This was my first date since Leslie died; the singles trip to Israel
didn't count. Formality made me nauseous; I hated the suits I had to wear
during the day and wore other clothes every chance I could. I wore jeans
and a dress shirt, no tie and an old sports jacket to cover my shoulder
holster. I drove up to Devorah's brownstone just before seven. She was
waiting on the stoop.
"You're punctual," I said, pulling up to the
curb on her one-way street.
"Mmm, parolees who want to impress
always are," she replied, standing up.
"You're not on parole now."
"But I still want to impress."
Nice! I smiled. "C'mon, let's
She walked around to the passenger side and climbed in. She
wore a fitted skirt, a closed elbow-length blouse and sandals. Her hair
was as before, around her shoulders.
"You look nice."
you. Finest second-hand in Brooklyn."
I shrugged my shoulders. "You
look nice, period. Don't sell yourself short."
"It's still hard not
to, but thank you."
I nodded and pulled into traffic.
was great. We had humus, tehina, salad, fries and grilled meat on skewers
until it ran out our pores. I asked Devorah how she got mixed up with
"I went to SUNY New Pfaltz on a partial athletic
scholarship. I played basketball. I was good but not good enough."
"To play professionally?"
"You sound resentful."
"I used to be and that was part of my problem. My phys-ed major went
from being an excuse to the main thing."
"And you weren't exactly
"No. I graduated, student taught and found a job at a
public school in the Bronx, a tough school but everyone's gotta start
somewhere. I got hurt; aggravated an old school injury, and went on
Percocet. The doctor eventually said I was better and the script ran out.
But I found that the pills made all kinds of pain go away. So I found
somewhere I could get Percocet without a script, it's not that hard, and
eventually wound up with Enrique Jimenez. He started me dealing to other
'nice' middle class types like me. The extra money was good, at first. But
once I was in deep enough, he turned nasty. One day he claimed I had
shorted him and said either I let him nail his 'Jewish princess' or he'd
beat the crap out of me."
Devorah averted her gaze and looked down;
I didn't say a word.
"So I let him do what he wanted. It became a
regular thing and he started slapping me around anyway. One day Enrique
tells me that a new customer wanted to talk to me before school the next
day and I had better do what he said. The father of one of the big jocks
at my school, a star wrestler, accosted me on my way to work. He said he
knew all about me and that Enrique had said that I would pass his kid and
slip him Percocet."
"Of course. I didn't want to
get beat up worse. Then Enrique said I had to let the father nail me. I
figure the old bastard paid him for it. He bent me over in an alley."
I winced. "What made you decide to call the police when you did?"
Devorah took a deep breath. "Enrique said I had to let the kid do me
too. He was 16! He was my student for crying out loud!" She had tears in
her eyes. "That's when I realized I had hit bottom and called 911."
"So you'll understand if I sell myself short," she
said as she wiped her eyes. "The DA went easy on me and I was sent to
Taconic. I met Rabbi and Rebbetzin Wasserman almost right away. I really
believe that God sent them to help me. I had this big gaping hole," she
touched her chest, "which I'm in the process of filling. I'm going to make
I didn't doubt it. "Why change your name?" 'Devorah'
was Hebrew for 'Debra'; 'Malka' was Aramaic for 'king', a common Sephardi
"Debbie King was a messed-up junkie."
"I dunno, a work in progress. We'll just have to see." She
She said 'we.' I smiled too.
"Nu, enough about me.
Tell me how Alex Levy, the non-observant beat-cop became Alex Levy,
orthodox PI. You could be a mini-series."
I laughed. I told her
about Leslie, the fucking drunk who'd run her over, how Rabbi Asher helped
me sit shiva and how my becoming observant grew out of that. I told her
about quitting the NYPD and becoming a PI. I did *not* tell her about
Esther; Rabbi Abulafia had insisted that that be kept private.
waiter cleared the table and brought mint tea and baklava.
asked about my work. I mentioned that it bothered me that some of my
clients were only too glad to hire me to do their dirty work and make sure
that the junk under the rug stayed under the rug, but still looked down on
me as newly-observant, not born-orthodox like them.
"And that bugs
"Hell, yes. Doesn't it bother you when people look down on
"Alex, I used and sold drugs, and let my dealer and a perfect
stranger fuck me. Decent people are entitled to look down on me."
Ouch. Set, Devorah.
"And nobody's tried to fix you up, a good
looking guy like you?"
"Thank you; they don't stop."
"I haven't met anyone that I really like but I think I'm doing OK
"Does that mean you like me?" she asked, sipping her tea.
We finished our dessert; I paid the
waiter and left my usual hefty tip. Devorah and I went back to the van and
I drove her home, pulling up in front of the brownstone.
"If I was
who I used to be," she said quietly, "I'd invite you in and maybe jump you
on the couch."
"And if I was who I used to be, we probably wouldn't
even make it to the couch."
"You're really attracted to me that
I was. "Yes."
Devorah smiled. "So we'll see each
In the orthodox world, pre-marital sex was strictly
proscribed, not that it didn't happen, of course, but it contravened
Jewish law and was not the norm. Getting laid meant getting married;
dating meant looking for a spouse. A couple would meet, sometimes only
once but usually several times, to see if they felt right for each other,
based on all sorts of factors, physical attraction being one. If they felt
enough of a connection and thought that they had potential, they got
married. As people who were not always religious, this code of behavior
was new for Devorah and I.
"I'd like that a lot," I replied.
"I'll call you but please don't be offended if I don't have a whole
lot of time over the next few weeks. I like you Alex, a lot, but this job
at the school is my ticket back to the real world; it has to come before
"I understand." I really did, and respected her
even more for seeing it that way.
"Thank you for dinner.'
Devorah got out and walked up to her door. I waited
until she was inside and then drove home.
exchanged emails and saw each other for coffee or a quick sandwich a few
times over the next three weeks. I found myself measuring time in the
increments between our brief meetings, which I increasingly looked forward
to. Devorah's smiles lit my world. I imagined what it could be like, being
married, and making love, to her. The night before school started, she
called me and said she was all ready and needed a break. I took her to a
little family dim sum place (kosher, of course) in Soho.
me about the school and said that the other teachers were pretty much
keeping their distance.
"And not just because phys-ed is the
unwanted stepchild in orthodox girls' education?" I asked, as we ate.
"So it does bother you?"
"What it does, is
make me appreciate you all the more." Her eyes sparkled.
you're beautiful." The words just blurted out.
The waiter came to clear our table. He brought two home-made fortune
cookies along with green tea and the bill.
I opened mine first.
"'He who hesitates is lost.'" What a hint. "What did you get?"
typo." She handed me the paper.
"'A fiend in need is a fiend
indeed.'" I crumpled the paper. "Stupid typo."
I paid the bill and left my usual tip. I drove
Devorah back to her place in Brooklyn, pulling up in front.
"Thank you. You know, I thought Rebbetzin Wasserman
offering me a job was a miracle and then I met you. I can't believe you're
happening to me."
"Believe it," I looked into her eyes, which were
beautiful but soft, as if she was hiding some kind of residual sadness.
Devorah was bright, pretty and the most sincere person I had met in years.
I couldn't give a rat's ass about her past. I knew right then that I was
going to ask her to marry me, it was just a question of where and when. I
suppressed an impulse to ask her on the spot; I figured that I could do
better than the front of my beat-up old van.
Devorah nodded. "I
will; you're wonderful."
God, I wanted to hold her! But I didn't.
"Good night. Good luck."
"Thank you. 'Bye."
I watched as
Devorah got out and walked up to her door. Before going in, she turned
around and smiled. I smiled back and pulled into traffic. I couldn't
believe how quickly I had fallen for her but for the first time since
Leslie died I had someone who I looked forward to being with. With Leslie,
I had been a self-centered prick; I would not be like that for Devorah.
God was giving me a second chance as much as He was giving her. I started
thinking about more practical matters, like where I could get a ring and
when I would ask her.
If I thought I had seen too little
of Devorah in the three weeks before school started, I saw even less of
her in the three weeks after it started. We spoke a few times and
exchanged brief emails. One day, she SMS'ed me:
"Free tonight. Wine
I replied: "Sure. Indian?" I knew a great kosher Indian
restaurant on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.
"Love it & you. Where
"Pick you up at 7?"
"No; meet you there. Where?"
I sent her the address."
"Thanks. Back to class; see ya!"
Devorah signed off.
That evening I dressed pretty much
as I had for our first date and drove into Manhattan.
Moghul's Palace" was a classy joint. The owner hailed from Kerala. Rather
than open yet another Indian restaurant in New York, he thought that he
could make a niche for himself by opening a kosher Indian restaurant. (Why
not? New York has kosher everything else.) Although he had built up a
devoted clientele in the Jewish community, that his food was great could
be seen by the fact that, on any given night, most of his customers were
Indians, not Jews, who, of course, couldn't have cared less about the
I parked nearby and walked in. As usual, the Moghul was
crowded. As I spoke to the
hostess, a woman sitting in one of the
booths looked up. Devorah grinned and slid out of the booth. I did a
triple-take. She wore an obviously new black dress that, while in keeping
with the orthodox standards (closed neckline, sleeves past the elbow and
hem below the knees), was clingy and altogether flattering to her figure.
She looked hot.
She sat back down as I joined her. "Like?"
"You look great. Wow."
"I have to dress so plain at school. I
wanted to look nice for you, you know, wear something more fashionable."
"I'm flattered. I hope this didn't set you back."
"I pawned my
Grandmother's silver candlesticks. You're worth it," she said as she
opened the menu. "What's good here? I haven't had Indian food in ages."
We shared a large platter of various curries and house specialties,
and talked as we ate.
"Meaning that Ner Israel sees phys-ed as a state-imposed
burden for the girls to endure with the minimum necessary effort. Like you
said, the unwanted, and ugly, stepchild in orthodox girls' education."
"And you don't like that?"
"Absolutely not. Look, if most of
the girls want to be teachers, or just wives and mothers, that's fine, but
I want to show them that whatever they want to be, they'll be better at it
if they're fit. Fitness, and feeling good about it, is not a sin, is it?"
"Uh, I don't think so."
"I started the girls on aerobics, you
know, to music."
Devorah must've seen my pained look.
don't worry, it'll be fine. I found some instrumental klezmer stuff. I
can't have them standing around playing Newcomb all year."
careful that you don't rock Rebbetzin Wasserman's boat too much."
"I won't. Besides, the students have me for so little time."
through our conversation, I couldn't take my eyes off hers. They had a
strange look; the softness was gone. She seemed much more focused. I asked
her about her students.
"All cut from the same cloth, more or
less, not much to tell them apart. A few stand out."
"Well, I've got an 11th-grader, Kochava, who's a real free spirit."
"At Ner Israel?"
"Yep, bit of a discipline case from what I
hear. But she likes my class and is the only girl with any real athletic
ability. She has potential; she could go far. Then there's her friend,
Vered, who's an absolute whiz at science and math. Her father teaches
Jewish law at the school. She has her heart set on Stern College but
that's way too modern for her father, who, I gather, isn't keen on the
idea of girls with brains. He wants to marry her off now to the son of
"How old is she?"
"Just turned 17."
"I think he slaps her around..."
I looked up.
"...and, I dunno, I get the vaguest impression that it might be more
than just slapping. She has this look, I saw it on some of the girls at
I clenched my fork as hard as I could; my knuckles were
Devorah glanced at my fist and smiled, obviously pleased,
like a teacher might at a favorite student. "'Be not hasty in your spirit
to be angry..." she said.
"'...for anger rests in the bosom of
fools.'," I replied, "Ecclesiastes 7:9. One of my favorites."
"Indeed. Did you ever think that they're fools because they let their
anger *rest in their bosom*?"
We paused while the waiter cleared
"Think about it."
The waiter returned with pista kulfi and masala tea. We talked about our
whether we had told them that we were seeing each other.
Devorah had told her sister; I had told my brothers. Everyone had wished
I paid for the meal and drove Devorah back to Brooklyn. I
pulled up in front of the brownstone.
"See you again soon?" she
"I'll call you." I nodded.
I watched her walk up to
the door. She definitely looked good. I found myself admiring her ass and
running my hands over it...My BlackBerry beeped with an incoming SMS.
"Like the view?"
I looked up. Devorah was checking her mail
with her back to me.
I SMS'ed back, "Yes." She had nabbed me
red-handed; what else could I say?
She replied, "Good. :-)," and
Damn! I went over the evening as I drove home.
Devorah's whole demeanor had been different. Instead of subdued and
demure, she was pert and more forward. And then there were her eyes. I
wondered if she was using again. Maybe the job was too stressful; she had
resorted to drugs, when under stress, once before. That could explain it.
But she didn't have a druggie look, just a *different* look. I was getting
nowhere fast. Then I thought about me. Was I merely infatuated with her?
Had my heart, with my dick somewhere in tow, gotten the better of my
brain? Maybe. But I liked her, a lot; I couldn't stop thinking about her.
I drove past the school, thought about Devorah teaching there and suddenly
remembered that it stood on the site of Esther's building. Esther. Her
ghost had been trapped in that building for over 70 years. Maybe...No, no,
I didn't want to go there. I had put all that stuff behind me. Maybe
Devorah *was* using again, or maybe I was just cuckoo, with a pro-active
imagination. I went home and went to bed. It was a warm night; I left the
windows open in my fourth-storey apartment.
impressions cascaded through me in a dizzying sequence. I was resentful, I
was defiant, I fled far, far away into the years and hid. I was angry,
anger gnawed at me, I gnawed back, anger turned to rage. Other
streams...Lust. I crave pleasures of the flesh, my flesh, anybody's flesh,
everybody's flesh. Vengeance, I want vengeance. Punish them! Lust, anger,
vengeance! Punish them for all eternity! Lightning, prison! Silence,
watching, watching. Fire and thunder...freedom! Vengeance, anger, lust, a
rush of wings...
I sat bolt upright, soaked in a cold sweat, lunged
for my piece in the nightstand drawer
and pointed it around the room.
Wings, I had heard a rush of wings in my room. A curtain flapped in the
breeze. Panting, I slowly lowered my piece and looked at the clock; it was
just before 05:00. I felt like I had after Esther had invaded my
consciousness. I still sensed the stream of emotions, someone else's, not
mine; a foreign presence had manipulated my dream, had manipulated me. But
why? And who was responsible? With Esther, I at least had something to go
on. She had come to me and had drawn me to her building, on the site of
which Devorah's school now stood. I thought of my weird date with Devorah
the night before. Was she involved somehow? Maybe it was all a coincidence
but Rabbi Asher always said that there was no such thing as coincidences.
I went back to my dream. I did not "see" anything. There were no vivid
images, just vivid emotions. With nothing substantial to go on, I decided
to go about my regular business. If 'somebody' wanted me badly enough, I
figured that they would know how to find me. I showered, dressed and drove
off to Rabbi Asher's synagogue for morning prayers.
After my usual
bagel and coffee at Sam's, I drove to see Devorah's parole officer. I
asked her when Devorah's next random test was.
"I dunno," she
replied, "I haven't thought about it. Why? You suspect something?"
"Not sure but I'd like to be able to rule something out."
if she's using again?"
"It doesn't seem like her."
"It's probably just me being paranoid but humor me, please."
"Have you shared your...suspicions with Rebbetzin Wasserman?"
and if Devorah's clean, I don't intend to. Why get her radar up about
"Good point." She looked at her planner. "I can check
her...after school today."
"No problem. Ya know,
I hope you are being paranoid. It's gonna break my heart if you're not.
All my cases should be as easy as Devorah."
I left. I had other work to do that day including a
deposition and a court appearance. On my way home in the late afternoon, I
stopped at Genelli's barbershop to have my beard shaved off. Luigi Genelli
had been dead for years; his son Michael ran the shop. He had a lot of
orthodox Jewish customers and knew to use an electric shaver, never a
blade, on them. I had a surveillance job later that evening and didn't
want to risk being recognized. When Michael was finished, I noticed my
scar in the mirror and thought about Devorah and how our paths had
crossed, again. God, obviously, wasn't done with us yet.
evening prayers at Rabbi Asher's synagogue, I changed into jeans and my
old Rangers jacket and cap, and drove to Loco Mike's, a sleazy strip joint
out in Queens. The father of a woman involved in a messy divorce had hired
me to take pictures of his son-in-law eyeing the ladies. Loco Mike's ran
an amateur hour the first of every month; I was told that my mark never
I parked down the block and put on a pair of fake
eyeglasses. They had a wireless fiber optic camera that I controlled with
a fake car alarm on my keychain, and which transmitted to a laptop in my
van. I checked everything, waited for my mark to show, waited a few more
minutes and then followed him in. I flipped the hostess a crumpled $50 for
the cover charge, bought an overpriced bottle of Genny Cream and found a
seat from which I had an unobstructed view of both the stage and my mark.
He paid avid attention to the succession of young ladies who were called
on stage to strut their stuff. Most of them were mediocre lookers and even
worse dancers but he didn't seem to care; I took lots of good pictures.
It didn't bother me, going into strip joints, or taking pictures of a
cheating spouse in flagrante delicto. It was a job and that knowledge, or
excuse, helped me detach. Hell, even though I had been celibate since my
encounter with Esther, I didn't even get a hard-on, not that there was
anything particularly interesting on stage that night. I was about to
leave when the stage manager announced the next, and final, amateur of the
"And let's give a big Loco Mike welcome to...Star!"
A busty, young, very young, redhead in a tiny bikini strode on stage
and launched herself around the pole like a pro. For the first time all
evening, Loco Mike's erupted in whistles and howls, that grew even louder
when Star lost her top. She had gorgeous tits and danced with abandon
before the fired-up crowd. I felt myself getting hard and decided that I
had had enough. I finished my beer and got up to leave just as Star
finished her set, to rousing applause. The stage manager came back out on
"And I think we have our winner for the evening! Star, how
about another round?"
The crowd cheered.
"Here you go, people, Loco Mike's gives you...Star!"
The crowd whooped it up as Star started up again.
word for 'star' popped in my head and I froze. 'Star' in Hebrew is
'kochav'. "Shit," I cursed aloud, drawing a quizzical look from a passing
waitress. I went over to the curtain that led to the dancers' dressing
room. A bouncer blocked my
"Off limits; back to your seat
I flashed my private investigator's ID.
"You should." I pointed to Star. "She's only 16."
me. No way."
The stage manager walked over. "Who the fuck are you?"
I showed him my ID and pointed to Star. "She's under age."
said she was 18. Prove she isn't."
"Lemme see her stuff."
The stage manager nodded and the bouncer stood aside and held back the
curtain. I went backstage, ignored the other girls and looked around.
"Over there," the manager pointed to one of the make-up tables.
I went over, opened a large gym bag and pulled out a long skirt, a
long-sleeved blue blouse, a chumash, which I kissed before replacing, some
notebooks and a textbook, that I held up. The cover read: 'Geometry for
the 10th and 11th grades.'
"Ya got me. Oops."
with me now and I forget we were ever here."
finished her number to more rousing applause, came backstage, saw us and
stopped. She didn't bat an eyelash.
"Star, honey," the manager
said, "Come back on your eighteenth birthday and I'll headline you. But
now, you gotta go with Detec..."
"I know who he is."
it a small world?"
Kochava walked up and, with her tits in my face,
slowly got dressed.
"Hey," the manager piped in, "I like that
schoolgirl thing. That could work."
I wanted to smack him but
didn't. I grabbed Kochava by the elbow. "Let's go." I took her out through
the back. We emerged into an alley and headed around front toward my van.
"What the hell were you doing in there?"
"Duh, dancing. You
don't think I was I hot?"
I couldn't believe this! "Gaghh! C'mon,
I'm taking you home."
"If you have to," she said as we reached the
"Get in." I walked around to the driver's side, got in and
started the engine. "Where to?"
Where do you live?"
"102 Beech. Not far from..."
where it is." I pulled into traffic and headed back toward Brooklyn. I was
beside myself. "You don't know what kind of sick perverts are in a hole
"As opposed to back in pious, pure Brooklyn?"
"Do you *want* strange guys slavering over you like you were a side of
"It beats being ignored. And you should see the 'holy
people' eye me back home. At least back at the club, nobody's a
My jaw dropped. "How in God's Name did you get the idea
in your head to dance in a strip joint?"
"God had nothing to do
"Obviously! Nu, I'm all ears!"
"You really want to
"A little birdie told me."
not to scream. "Well birds have, you know, birdbrains!"
one," she replied with a grin.
Now what the hell did that mean?
"You have an answer for everything, don't you?"
"If that's the best
you can come up with, then yeah."
"Do your parents know what you do
in your spare time?"
"'Parent'. I live with my Mom, and no, she
"And your Dad?"
"Well, after he cleaned Mom out
over a get and ran off with a shicksa who's barely older than me, he
doesn't come around much."
Throughout our conversation, Kochava was
oddly calm and composed. I would've thought she would at least be rattled,
if not downright scared shitless, at being caught stripping but she was
not flustered or fazed in the least bit. If anyone was perturbed, it was
me, and her coolness was only adding to it.
"Two more questions."
"You're the detective."
"How did you find out about a place
like Loco Mike's and how do you know who I am? And yes, I really want to
Kochava shrugged. "OK, suit yourself. 'For a bird of the air
shall carry the voice,
and that which has wings shall tell the
What the fuck? I just stared at her.
I knew the citation. I was speechless.
"Try not to
hit the baglady."
I looked and slammed on the brakes.
baglady with her cart flipped me the bird and let loose with a torrent of
"Yeah, yeah, sorry." I reached into my wallet, pulled out
a twenty, crumpled it and tossed it to her.
She cursed me some more
and made her way across the street, from left to right.
whaddya know?" Kochava said, "My building." She pointed to a run-down
looking apartment block across the street on the left. "It's all Mom can
I parked the van, replaced my Rangers cap with a spare
kipa I keep in the door and followed Kochava up three flights. As we
approached a particular door, I could hear raised voices from inside:
"Look, I don't know where your sister is! It's way past your bedtime!
Just say 'Shema' and go to bed!"
"We want Kochava!"
"Well, she's not here!"
Two young children started to cry.
"Just in time," Kochava quipped. She kissed the mezuzah...
shook my head.
...and opened the door. "Hey!"
Two very young children - a boy and a girl, they
looked four or five, the former had earlocks - in pajamas mobbed Kochava,
who bent down to hug and kiss them both.
"Read us a story!"
"How about...Daniel and the lions?"
"That's our favorite!"
"Give Mommy a kiss."
The kids ran
over and kissed their mother, who was sitting at a table.
goodnight to my friend, Mr. Levy."
"Good night, Mr. Levy," they
called out in unison.
"Good night," I replied, forcing myself to
smile. I watched in disbelief as Kochava, now all sweetness and light,
looking like a typical orthodox schoolgirl, led her younger brother and
sister, off to bed. They rounded a corner and I heard Kochava leading her
siblings in the Shema prayer.
"Hear O Israel..."
I addressed Kochava's mother. "Um, good evening. My name is
Alex Levy. I'm a private detective." I showed her my ID.
Kochava in trouble?"
Kochava's mother had a strained, exasperated
expression. She looked worn out and was obviously making a great, not
altogether successful, effort to keep her composure.
This was hard.
"I was out on a job. I had to take pictures of someone at a strip club, in
Queens, and Kochava was one of the dancers."
"Oy, gottenyu!" She
might as well have been poleaxed, "What a shanda! You...you have
*pictures* of her?"
"I, uh, I'll delete all the pictures with
Kochava; I don't need them for my investigation."
Suddenly the mother's face gave way to anger. "Kochava has a new teacher,
an ex-drug addict and a whore from what I hear. This is her fault! She put
this horrible idea in my Kochava's head!" Kochava's mother burst into
I was incensed but this was neither the time nor the place
to rush to Devorah's defense. That we were seeing each other was nobody's
business and Kochava's mother was in quite a state. I waited for her to
"Kochava told me about the divorce," I said
quietly, "Look, I wouldn't presume to lecture you but I think Kochava
needs help, some kind of counseling. Here's my card." I left one on the
table. "I could ask my rabbi about someone she could talk to. Call me if
you want, anytime."
"Thank you, thank you."
"Good night." I
let myself out.
I went back to the van, got in and just sat there
behind the wheel. What the fuck did Kochava mean: 'For a bird of the air
shall carry the voice, and that which has wings shall tell the matter'? I
thought of my dream and heard the rush of wings again in my mind. Someone
was definitely messing with me, but who? And how the hell could Kochava be
involved? And what about Devorah? Devorah! I figured I had better tell her
about my encounter with Kochava especially given her mother's remark. She
could make trouble. I called Devorah's cellphone on my BlackBerry. There
was no answer. I tried her house. Still no answer. Maybe she turned in
early? For a moment, I pictured her laying in bed asleep, with me next to
her, a tangle of arms and legs, after raucous sex...A loud, raspy screech
snapped me out of my reverie. A large owl flew out of a tree to my right,
was briefly illuminated in the light of a street lamp and flew off into
the gloom around the far side of Kochava's building. I SMS'd Devorah and
asked her to meet me at the bakery before school the next morning. As I
drove off, I looked into the alley next to Kochava's building, into which
the owl had flown, but it was too dark to see anything. I drove home and
went to bed. I left the window open. You want me?, I thought, come and get
me. I checked my piece in the drawer, downed a good shot of single-malt
Irish whiskey, and soon fell fast asleep.
already? Oh well, time to pray. I'm all alone in Rabbi Asher's synagogue.
Where is everybody? I strap on my arm and head tefillin, making sure that
the arm strap is snug but not too tight and that my head tefillin is
straight. I close my eyes and try to put myself in the right frame of mind
for prayer but I can't. Devorah, work, Kochava, birds, too many images
crowding in, I can't shut them out. My arm strap tightens, what the...?
Oh, shit fuck, it's a snake, a black serpent coiling around my arm and
head, oh God, it's too tight, I tear it off, ripping, clawing, pulling and
throw it to the floor. Shit, it's just leather. I'm stomping bits of
leather. I see the synagogue library; the door is ajar. Yes, a little
quiet study will calm me down. I walk in; nobody's here either. I reach
for a book but the books multiply and fly in every direction, covering the
walls, the ceiling and the floor with hundreds and thousands of books. I'm
completely boxed in. I hear a rush of wings from outside the room, the
same that I heard the night before. With a piercing screech, the owl
smashes into the room, the walls shake, books fly. I want to run but the
door is gone, there's no fucking door! The owl divebombs the library
again, smashing through the ceiling and walls. The force of the blow sends
me sprawling on my back. The owl swoops down, beak agape and talons thrust
forward. Where's my piece? Nooo!!! Razor-sharp talons slice through my
clothes, Devorah runs her hands along my bare chest and kisses me, sliding
her tongue against mine, as she lays her naked body on top of mine. She's
wet; her scent, a deep musky heat, is ferocious. I harden instantly,
overwhelmed by a savage desire to fuck her brains out. She flashes me that
pleased-schoolteacher smile again but I don't care. She lifts her hips, I
grab her ass and thrust inside her as hard as I can. She thrusts down on
me. We kiss all over each other's faces as we thrash around like goats in
heat. Her tits slide all over my chest. An awful pressure builds in my
balls; I'm going to come.
Suddenly, she pulls away. "Time to go to
What? No!!! My van morphs into a garbage truck. I'm
dressed in a filthy sanitation worker's uniform. Devorah climbs into the
back and pulls the lever. The hydraulic scoop comes down...
"Nooo!!!!" I sat bolt-upright, wide-awake, panting, aware of the same
foreign presence in my dream. But this was different than the previous
night; this time I and 'it' had interacted. Why did the owl morph into
Devorah? Was the owl trying to prey on me, or set me free? *Set me free?*
My faith is *not* a prison. 'It' had planted that thought in my head, I
think. Shit, I couldn't tell whether it had or hadn't. And the sex with
Devorah had been so raw, so primal. I suddenly realized that I was still
hard, still very aroused; my balls ached. I looked at the clock. I had
just enough time to shower and run off to morning prayers. I climbed out
of bed, went into the bathroom, turned on the cold water in the shower and
As I drove to synagogue, I thought about who could be
messing with me and why. My intimate encounter with Esther, a ghost, made
me aware that 'reality' was considerably bigger than I had hitherto
realized. God, and maybe Rabbi Abulafia, only knew what, or who, else was
part of it. Devorah's school stood on the site of Esther's building.
Esther had been trapped there for over 70 years. Maybe someone else had
been too? Or was there some other angle? I thought of Esther's estranged
husband. I knew nothing about him other than what Max had told Rabbi Asher
and I. He was immersed in his studies and sexually uninterested in Esther.
He swore revenge on her and disappeared. Since I had helped free Esther
from her vow, maybe he was now taking revenge on me and using Devorah to
get at me? I pulled up to the synagogue just as Rabbi Asher walked up.
"Good morning," he said, "Hey, no beard."
"Yeah, I shaved it
for a job; didn't want to risk being recognized."
"You OK? You look
"I'm good. I was out very late; I didn't get a whole lot of
sleep. I'll live." I forced a smile.
began to arrive. Rabbi Asher unlocked the doors and we went in.
Sam, Max and I drove to the bakery after prayers, as usual. Devorah was
Sam scooped up the morning papers and unlocked the door.
Sam and I helped Max to his table and gave him the papers.
down opposite Devorah in one of the booths.
"You look younger
without your beard."
"Don't push your luck." She
smiled. Her eyes went to my scar. "You can't see it that much."
"It's good that I got your SMS. I wanted to give you
"I actually wanted to give you a heads-up."
Devorah looked confused. "You first."
"OK. I went to a sleazy strip
joint in Queens last night. I had to photograph a guy in the audience, a
real messy divorce. Kochava Chait was one of the dancers, amateur night."
Devorah went all wide-eyed.
"I took her home. She was all sass
and attitude. Her mother's a basket case. She said, 'Kochava has a new
teacher, an ex-drug addict and a whore' and accused you of putting the
idea in her daughter's head. How much trouble could she make for you?"
"After what happened at the school last night, a lot. My turn?"
"Feige Katz teaches chumash at Ner Israel. She's been
there forever. She's very old school. She really, really doesn't like me.
She doesn't care much for Rebbetzin Wasserman either and is convinced she
could do a better job as principal. She has her friends on the board and
among the parents. Last night, there was some assembly for the younger
girls and their parents, nearly all mothers, but some fathers came. Feige
and I, and several other teachers, had to be there. Afterwards, she went
to the changing room to shower. She's got no water at home; they're
working on the pipes or something. She found a condom."
went up. "A condom?" In any public school, finding a rubber wouldn't be
such a big deal. At Ner Israel, it would be a big deal.
A very big, huge, enormous deal.
"Rebbetzin Wasserman has it. I
think she's going to call you and ask you if you can find out who used it,
I guess with DNA. There weren't that many men there last night."
"And you're telling me this because you think the dirt will be that you
were on the
Devorah nodded. "You should hear
what some of the other teachers say about me."
"I can imagine."
"The staff is so closed and stuffy, it's almost inbred. I knew I'd be
the outsider and that I'd have a hard time, but Alex, hardly anyone talks
to me. I didn't think that I would be treated like such an outcast. And
My BlackBerry beeped with an incoming SMS. I looked.
"It's Rebbetzin Wasserman. She wants me to come see her. Um, shit. Lemme
go talk to her."
Sam came out with Max's coffee just as Roscoe and
Joline sauntered in. I told everyone that I had to run. Devorah and I went
"Will you be able to find out whose semen it is?"
"That depends on how degraded it is. Even if the lab could get usable DNA,
we still have to hope that the guy is in a database somewhere. That's far
"Alex, what am I gonna do?"
just go on with your girls. Fuck the school gossip. I believe in you. You
turned away from hell and did a year-and-a-half at Taconic. That takes the
kind of strength that Feige Katz can only dream about.'
eyes brimmed with tears. She raised her hands like she wanted to hug me,
struggled for a moment and put them down. "I love you."
"And I love you. C'mon, I'll drive you to school."
"No, let me
walk. We shouldn't be seen entering the school together."
"No, shush. I'll walk."
"OK." I watched her round the block and
walked back to the van.
I drove over to the school, parked and went
to the office. The secretary showed me
in to Rebbetzin Wasserman. A
chair had been pulled up to her desk; I sat down.
"I take it
Devorah has told you about the condom."
we view this with utmost gravity." She opened a desk drawer and handed me
a zip-loc plastic bag. The condom was inside. "Can you identify...who it
"That depends on how degraded it is. Has it been in
your desk all night?"
"No, the school nurse's refrigerator."
Very clever of Rebbetzin Wasserman. "That helps. Assuming the lab can
get DNA, the gentleman in question still has to be in a database
somewhere. I'll need a list of all the men who were known to be in the
Rebbetzin Wasserman slid me a paper across the
"Very good, thank you."
"What about the other person?"
"Well, assuming that the gentleman who produced the semen wasn't by
himself, the chances of extracting usable DNA from whatever bodily fluids
other than semen that might be on the condom are close to nil, unless we
find a hair or epithelial cells."
"I assume that I don't have to
stress the need for discretion?"
"If we get usable DNA, whether we
can match it to anyone on this list," I waved the paper, "or not, I'll
speak to you before contacting anyone."
"Thank you. For this, you
will be reimbursed by Ner Israel Institutions."
I nodded. "Devorah
tells me that the scuttlebutt will be that she was the other person."
"She's probably right, unfortunately."
"Is being ostracized
part of her probation?"
"Detective, you know as well as I that the
Torah teaches us to welcome one who has strayed and receive them with..."
"Disdain and hostility?"
Rebbetzin Wasserman glowered at me.
"...love and compassion. However, you also know that all too often there
is a difference between what the Torah teaches and what Jews do. Devorah
will have to learn how to deal with that reality, unpleasant and unfair as
it may be. She'll be the stronger for it."
She had a point but it
still sucked. "I'll be in touch," I said, standing up.
I sat back down.
"Rabbi Issachar Belkin teaches
Jewish law at the school. He was here last night. Apparently, he has not
been seen since. His wife phoned me this morning and told me that he did
not come home. He did not phone and ask me to arrange a substitute teacher
to take his classes today, which is the normal procedure. I saw his
daughter just now; she also said that he did not come home."
daughter?" I asked. Something jogged my memory.
she's in the 11th grade."
this unusual behavior for him?"
"And he had no
appointments or pressing business that might take him out of town?"
"No. His wife is very concerned. I told her that I would ask you to
look into it."
"Wait, has she gone to the police yet?"
"Don't you have to wait 24 hours before you can report someone missing?"
"That's a myth. Where do the Belkins live?"
"Then she should go to the seven-one, uh, the 71st Precinct police
station, on Empire Boulevard and report him missing immediately, although
unless there's some reason to suspect foul play..." I did not say anything
about what Devorah had told me, "...I don't know what kind of priority the
police will assign to the case. I'll make some enquiries. I'll need a
photo and his address, phone number, email address and any ID numbers,
Social Security, driver's license, etc. and especially credit card
numbers. Do you think that Rabbi Belkin might be...connected to..."
"The condom? Certainly not! He comes from a distinguished and learned
I wanted to shout "Which doesn't mean squat" but I
didn't. "No offense, but I had to
Rebbetzin Wasserman opened his file, which she had ready, and began
"I'll need to talk to Mrs. Belkin at some point."
"Uh, no. Like I said, let me make some enquiries. Is
there anymore, anything else?"
"No. Isn't this enough?"
today, yes." I waited for her to finish copying Rabbi Belkin's details.
When she was done, she handed me a sheet of paper. "I'll be in touch." I
rose and left. I pulled out my BlackBerry to call Devorah and almost
bumped into Kochava, who was coming down the corridor. She flashed me a
shit-eating grin, quickly replaced it with a blank expression as two
teachers hurried past me, and grinned again before turning into a
classroom. I dialed Devorah as I walked out of the school towards the
"What? I have a class in two seconds."
"What about him?"
"What you told me the other night, how widely held is that suspicion?"
"I don't know. Here come the girls. Gotta go." Devorah closed her
I drove straight to the lab I use, gave them the condom and
told them to send any data to Carl, who was my next stop.
Dupre was ex-CID, a digital forensics specialist. He took his discharge
after someone tried to blow him up in Fallujah; Carl says it wasn't just
your random roadside mayhem but a hit, aimed at him personally. The blast
left him a double-amputee; he lost both legs just above the knee. He used
his Army comp to set himself up as a private "cyberdick-for-hire" (his
words, not mine). He was discreet, highly competent and crazy as a loon.
I buzzed the doorbell of his ground-level apartment down in Rockaway.
"C'mon in!" came the reply.
Once, I walked in on Carl and his
wife Gloria, who is as eccentric as he is, as she was bouncing up and down
on his lap in one of his favorite custom wheelchairs. Ever since then, I
listen before going in. I put my ear to the door, heard Carl cursing the
Mets, smiled and walked in.
"Bunch 'a lame candy-ass motherfuckers!
Hey, Alex, did you see this? They blew it to the fuckin' Padres last night
in the 17th, man!" Carl put his hands to his neck and made an exaggerated
"You got a mouth like the East River."
stuck her head out of the kitchen. "They cleaned up that river. Hi Alex."
I pointed to Carl. "He doesn't change."
"Are you kidding? No
sugar in your espresso, right?"
Carl wheeled around
to face me. "Whatcha got, my man?"
"A bunch of shit. Hopefully, the
lab'll be sending you the DNA from some jism from a condom that I
retrieved. See if you can get a hit anywhere. If you can, I'm betting it's
one of these guys." I handed him the list of men who were at Ner Israel
yesterday. "Next, dig up the dirt on this guy, Rabbi Issachar Belkin,
missing since last night." I photocopied the paper from Rebbetzin
Wasserman and gave Carl a copy. "Check to see if he's on any sex-offender
"Yo," Carl said, "the dude's on your list."
Gloria brought me my coffee and went to rub Carl's shoulders.
"Yeah. It might be unrelated but who knows?" I took one of his notepads
and wrote down what I knew about Devorah, her cellphone number, email
address, home address, that she went to SUNY New Pfaltz and did time at
Taconic, her sister in Chicago, etc. "Dig up what you can about her,
anything. See if she has a psych history or anything like it in her
"No. One more thing. Do a search and
see if you can find any links between sex, or sexual promiscuity, and
birds, especially owls."
Carl stared. "You getting weird on me?"
"Don't ask. That's it. Too much?"
"Shee-it, I could do this
with Gloria here riding in the hot seat." He slapped his thighs.
"You could not!" Gloria said indignantly.
"Oh yeah woman; wanna
"You gonna eat them words!"
"I'd rather eat..."
I could see where this was headed. "I'm outta here." I chugged my
espresso. "Call me."
I went back to the van and called Joey, my old
partner, at the seven-one, where he was now a detective, and asked if he
had a few minutes. He said he did and invited me over. The seven-one had
been my station; I still knew a lot of people there. I drove over, parked
around the block and walked in. I signed in and was showing the desk
sergeant my piece and my license to carry a concealed weapon, when Joey
sauntered up. We embraced; he vouched for my bona fides to the desk
sergeant and we headed upstairs to the detectives' office. I said hello to
some of the crew, helped myself to some atrocious coffee and sat down with
Joey, at his desk. I asked about Lisa, his wife, and the kids; he asked me
if I was seeing anyone yet.
"Yeah, actually, I am." I didn't want
to tell Joey just who Devorah was.
"It looks that
"That's great. Good luck. So, what's up?"
I gave Joey
the copy of the paper on Rabbi Belkin. "Missing since last night." I told
Joey what Rebbetzin Wasserman had told me. I saw no reason, at this stage,
to tell him about the condom until I had evidence tying Rabbi Belkin to
it; neither did I repeat what Devorah had told me. "I told Rebbetzin
Wasserman to tell the wife to come in right away and report him missing. I
gather she hasn't yet."
Joey checked his computer and called down
to the desk sergeant, who would have referred Mrs. Belkin to an
investigator. "No, she hasn't."
"How 'bout the Medical Examiner's
Office and Central Booking?"
"Lemme check." Joey played with his
computer for a few minutes. "Zilch. He's not at the morgue and he hasn't
been processed at Central Booking, not in Brooklyn and not in any of the
other boroughs. Whaddya gonna do now?"
"Check some of the local
hospitals, I dunno, maybe check Nassau County."
"Ah, he's probably
shacked up somewhere. We bust hasids in whorehouses all the times, same as
everyone else. Ask one of the undercover policewomen how many hasids they
run into." Joey's phone rang. "Hello? Where? Yeah, yeah, I'm on my way."
He put the phone down. "Gotta run," Joey said, standing up. "Some moron
just violated a restraining order and shot his parents. I'll call you if
your Rabbi Belkin turns up."
"Thanks." I stood up too. "I'm sorry
for wasting your time."
"Hey, you can waste my time anytime."
We hugged. Joey ran off. I stayed to chat with a few of my old buddies
and left. I tried the local hospitals and then drove out to Mineola, where
I grabbed lunch, to see if Nassau County had Rabbi Belkin. Zip. Neither
the Nassau County Police nor the Medical Examiner had him or any John Does
that matched his description. I updated Rebbetzin Wasserman, who informed
me that Mrs. Belkin was then on her way to the seven-one to report her
husband missing. I spent the rest of the day on other jobs. The lab called
in the evening and said that they had extracted usable DNA from the semen
in the condom and had sent their report to Carl. Devorah's parole officer
called and said that the urine test had come up negative.
of the evening passed uneventfully. I went to prayers at Rabbi Asher's
synagogue, stayed for a class on I Samuel and went home, where I ate,
watched the Mets embarrass themselves again and went to bed. I had no
strange dreams and slept like a baby until getting up at 05:10. I showered
and drove to the synagogue for morning prayers, after which I drove Sam
and Max to the bakery.
Sam and I had just helped Max to his table
when my BlackBerry rang.
It was Carl. "Yo, Alex, your lady's
clean. Nuthin' out of the ordinary."
"Thanks. Did you get the lab
"Yup, but you got bigger problems with Rabbi Belkin."
"You still got that laptop in your van?"
"Check out the Post, and the Daily News, crime news. I'll wait."
I ran out to the van, grabbed the laptop and turned it on. I walked
back into the bakery, sat down in one of the booths and called up the
Post. "Oh, SHIT!"
"Yeah, man," Carl said, "Catch you later."
I stared at the monitor in disbelief.
Sam came over to look.
The headline read: "RANDY RABBI FOUND DEAD IN HOOKER HOTEL."
"Fuck," I muttered under my breath as we read. "Brooklyn Rabbi
Issachar Belkin was found dead, reportedly strangled, in a hotel known to
be haven for local prostitutes. His naked body..." I went over to the
Daily News. The headline read: "HORNY HASID DIES IN HO-TEL." Both articles
had pictures of a man's body, with his face and groin blurred, laying face
up in bed.
My BlackBerry rang. It was Joey.
"I'm looking at it now. Holy fuck. Please tell me this is your case."
"It is; we gotta talk."
"Come over to Gold's Bagels on
"Be there in five minutes."
As soon as Joey hung
up, Rebbetzin Wasserman called. "Detec..."
I interrupted her.
"Listen to me. The police will want to search Rabbi Belkin's locker or box
or whatever, and the changing room. Tell Devorah to close the changing
room, lock it. I have to tell the police about the condom. Lucky for us,
my old partner is the detective handling the case. He'll be as discreet as
possible. Nobody will come to the school with sirens blaring. I'm at the
bakery; Joey, that's my old partner, is on his way here."
been 36 hours since the condom was found. The room has been cleaned."
"Which is probably why they won't find anything but they'll have to
check it anyway. Joey will want to talk to you and any members of the
staff who knew Rabbi Belkin. Where is Vered?"
"Good. Gotta go. I'll see you soon."
I called Devorah. "Are you at
"No but I heard."
"Yeah, major shit is hitting
the fan." I told her what I told Rebbetzin Wasserman. "You be tough and
know that I love you."
"Then I'll be tough; thank you. I love you
"Here's Joey; 'bye."
Joey came in, along with Roscoe
and Joline. They went to the kitchen. Joey and I sat in one of the booths.
Sam brought us some coffee and left us to talk.
"How did the papers
get the story so quick?" I asked.
"They were tipped."
"The Post and the Daily News received anonymous calls,
directing them to the hotel. After almost getting into a fistfight, the
reporters and photographers who went to the scene called us."
"And I take it they're not talking about the calls?"
"Those fucking jackals? Hell no. They've referred all inquiries to
their corporation counsels."
"So what happened?"
in the pictures, we found him laying on his back. We found jizz and dried
vaginal fluids all over his crotch. The m-e says that he was strangled,
with two hands, from the front. From the angle of the bruising, we figure
she was riding him and when he came, she reached down and..."
"I mean, we're talking one cold-hearted, and weird, bitch."
"What do you mean 'weird'?"
Joey leaned in close. "This dump
specializes in rooms by the hour, CSI's worst fucking nightmare, right?
Prints and dried fluids everywhere. So they're scanning the place with the
u-v lamps, Christ, I almost went blind from all the fluorescence."
"We almost missed it at first. There was something
written on the mirror."
"It fluoresced very
My jaw dropped.
"Yeah. The m-e confirmed - vaginal
"What did she write?"
"We don't know."
"It's in some kind of chicken-scratch hieroglyphics or
something; there were five characters; two of them are the same. We're
gonna check with the FBI and the Department of Modern Languages over at
Gonzaga, to start."
My mind raced to the changing room at the
school. If the condom there was Rabbi Belkin's and he had the same
paramour... "Can you show me?"
"I don't have it on me. I'll see if
I can e-mail it to you later."
"Thanks. What about the front desk?"
"Are you kidding? The lowlife who was on duty knows that if he starts
id'ing hookers and their johns to us..."
"His business'll dry up,
or some angry pimps will redecorate his face, if he's lucky."
says that Belkin paid for the room while the lady stood out in the lobby
look directly at him."
"'Cause she didn't want to be
recognized, cause she knew she was gonna kill him."
"Like I said,
one cold-hearted bitch. He says that she was better dressed than the
average pro' and had shoulder-length hair."
I thought of Devorah
but pushed the thought out of my head. "Listen, there might be something
else on Belkin."
"The night before last, one of
the teachers at the school where he works, went to shower in the gym
changing room; she's got no water at home. She found a condom, used."
Joey's brow went up. "In a religious, all-girls school?"
nodded. "She gave it to the principal, who put it in a baggie in the
nurse's fridge overnight, and gave it to me yesterday morning, right
before I came to see you. I didn't know if it was connected; it might not
be. I took it to a lab. They retrieved usable DNA, which I had them send
"How is that crazy bastard?"
"Nutty as one of
Lisa's Christmas fruitcakes. Look, I didn't tell you about this
"Because you had no reason to. I know how it goes.
You don't have to justify yourself to me. This is all you got on him?"
I did not want to involve Devorah at this stage. "So far, yeah. I'll
call the lab and tell them that CSI will be coming over to pick up the
condom, any remaining jism and their report."
I ask you a favor."
"Ner Israel is a very
old-fashioned, closed-off kind of school. A scandal like this is gonna
flatten them. Police crawling all over the place, asking all kinds of
questions, will only add to their shock. I mean, most hasids still see
every policeman as a potential Cossack." This was a lie and I hated
manipulating Joey but I needed to get to the changing room before CSI did.
"Let me go give the principal a heads-up as to what she can expect. It'll
make things easier for your people; I guarantee the school's complete
cooperation. I know what you said but I still feel bad about not telling
you about this yesterday. Let me go help you out."
cool. But please, go ahead. I gotta call CSI, organize more uniforms.
We're swamped; it'll take a while."
goomba like me?"
I smiled. "You're still my paisan."
Joey out. I didn't know how much time I had before his crew showed up at
Ner Israel. I was about to bolt for the van when I noticed Max reading the
Daily News. It was Joline's comment about something she saw in the Daily
News that he was reading, that prompted him to tell Rabbi Asher and I
Esther, the rabbi's wife, with the long hair, that you told Rabbi Asher
and I about a few years back?"
"Yeah. Oh, she was beautiful with
that long hair, just beautiful."
Indeed she was. "Her husband the
rabbi. You said that he wasn't interested in her physically and that he
was always studying. Do you remember anything else about him?"
put his paper down. "Lemme see here...Oh yeah, Davie Horowitz, we were
pals, said that his stepfather had warned him once to stay away from her
"'Cause he was studying kabbalah and
Davie's stepfather was so Lithuanian it hurt. Does that help you?"
"Yeah, Max, it does; thanks." Esther's husband studied kabbalah? Very
interesting; that could explain a lot. I hopped in the van, called
Rebbetzin Wasserman as I drove and told her to meet me at the changing
room. I set up the laptop to receive from my wireless fiber optic camera
eyeglasses, grabbed my high-intensity u-v lamp and went straight to the
changing room, where Rebbetzin Wasserman was waiting.
Levy, what's going on?"
"Aren't the police
"Yes but I need to check something first. Are the lights
"Good. Wait here."
I put on my glasses,
switched on the u-v lamp and began sweeping the changing room walls,
starting next to the showers. I didn't have to look far. On the side of
the last locker nearest the showers, I caught a fluorescence. Vaginal
fluids fluoresce far more weakly than semen, blood or urine, and can be
hard to detect. Luckily, I had a very powerful, high-intensity lamp, that
cost me a fortune, and what I saw was relatively bright. It could not have
been made when Feige Katz found the condom, approximately 36 hours
previously; this was recent. There were nine characters that appeared to
be grouped into four- and five-letter words, respectively. I recognized
the 'chicken scratch hieroglyphics' as the ancient Hebrew script, which,
although I recognized it, I could not read. I quickly snapped several
pictures. I ran back to Rebbetzin Wasserman. "Lock the room and please do
not tell the police that I was here."
"I don't understand."
"Neither do I, but please."
"Thank you." I ran
out to the van. The pictures had transferred to the laptop but despite my
u-v lamp, the writing was barely visible. I called Carl.
got my man?"
"I'm e-mailing you some pictures. You'll see very
faint writing in a strange script. Enhance the writing so it's clearer and
then mail the enhanced images to Rabbi Isaac Asher. Please do it as soon
as you can." I gave him Rabbi Asher's personal and synagogue email
"Thanks." I called Rabbi Asher.
"Alex, what's up?"
"I need your help. My computer expert will
send, to your personal and synagogue email, some images of something
written in the ancient Hebrew script. Please tell me what it says."
"*Ancient* script? Are you sure?"
"Yes, two words."
this connected to a case?"
"Could be but please keep this to yourself. You can translate it, right?"
"Sure but it might take me a while; I've got a pretty solid day."
"No problem. Thank you."
"I'll be in touch."
have liked Rabbi Asher's translation as soon as possible but he was one of
my best friends and I was not going to pressure him. I ran back into the
school, which I thought would be in an uproar but it wasn't. It appeared
to be just another day.
Rebbetzin Wasserman and I sat in her
office while I told her what to expect with Joey's investigation. She said
that since the changing room was off-limits, she had cancelled phys-ed for
the day, that Joey could use the gym for interviews and that Devorah would
mind the classes of teachers being interviewed.
"Have any parents
come to collect their daughters?" I asked.
"Detective Levy, is
there any immediate and tangible danger to the students' safety?"
"Then why should parents come to collect their daughters? One
does not lightly interrupt Torah studies. Better to keep the girls busy
and their minds occupied."
She had a point. "Who's absent today
besides Vered Belkin?"
Rebbetzin Wasserman picked up her phone.
"Rivka, would you bring me today's absentee list, please?"
secretary entered and handed Rebbetzin Wasserman a sheet of paper.
"Oh, we're good today. Besides Miss Belkin, there are only three
absentees. Sarah Kahn is recovering from appendicitis. Dina Schwartz is
sitting shiva. And Kochava Chait, no reason given."
My ears pricked
up. "Tell me about..."
The secretary came back in. "The police are
Damn! Rebbetzin Wasserman and I went out to meet Joey and
his crew. I introduced everyone around; Rebbetzin Wasserman promised full
and complete cooperation. I told her that she was in good and capable
hands, and left. If Joey wanted me, he knew where to find me.
bumped into Devorah as I headed out. I could see the storm cloud over her
"Someone else can babysit," she grumbled, "I'm going to ask
if I can go home."
"No, don't. It'll look..."
"What, like I
did it? So you think I'm guilty, too? Thanks!" She stalked off.
Shit. I went out to the van to think. Kochava Chait was absent? Sure, she
had an attitude to match her bra size but did she also have the gumption
to seduce, fuck and strangle her friend's father (while she was fucking
him!)? I wouldn't think so but, hell, I wasn't sure of anything at that
point. My BlackBerry rang, an out-of-state number.
"My name is Laurie King. I'm
This was a surprise. "Yeah, hi. What can I do
"Devorah told me about you, that you and her are seeing
each other. I think that's great."
"OK; thanks. But you're not
calling just to tell me that."
"No. Devorah and I talk almost every
day, or we used to up until a few weeks ago. Since then, she's been
acting, I dunno, weird."
"I practically raised
Devorah. Our parents worked 25 hours a day in their cigar store, Mom too.
They were so obsessed with 'providing' for Devorah and I that that was all
they did. I helped Devorah with homework, packed her lunch, bought her
clothes with money our parents gave me, sat with her when she was sick,
you name it."
"Did you visit her at Taconic?"
"As often as I
could. Our parents were dead by then. I know her better than anybody, um,
"None taken. What has she been doing weird?"
"There's no one thing I can put my finger on but she's become cool and
aloof. She doesn't open up to me like she used to. She never has time to
talk, she's always blowing me off. She's become almost bitchy. Call it big
sister's intuition, but something's not right."
So it wasn't just
me. Good, and bad.
"I mean, she hasn't told me a whole lot about
you or your relationship or anything and I don't want to pry, but have you
noticed anything weird about her?"
"I have noticed some of what
you've said, yeah."
"God, I hope she's not using again."
"She's not. Her most recent test was two days ago; she's clean."
"That's a relief. Listen, I have to go back to work; my break's almost
over. Will you keep an eye on her? I mean you're her boyfriend but you're
also a detective."
"I have your number. I'll be in touch."
"That would be great. Thank you."
She hung up.
So how did this fit in with my dreams, birds, the
condom at the school, Kochava Chait, a dead rabbi, bizarre graffiti and
whatever was left over from Esther's time, maybe her husband? Fuck,
nothing fit. I would have loved to try and track down Kochava but I had
other work that I couldn't ignore.
Rebbetzin Wasserman called me
at 2:00 PM. "Detective Gennaro and his people have left. He was quite the
gentleman, courteous and thorough."
as he was done interviewing people, Devorah asked if she could go home. I
told her that she could."
"She was in quite a state;
she seemed very depressed."
"I can imagine; thank you."
thank you for all your help." She hung up.
I cancelled my next
appointment and drove over to Devorah's house. She was sitting on the
stoop, drinking a Bacardi Breezer. I parked the van and sat down next to
She waved the Breezer. "Want one? They're legal."
thanks. Laurie phoned."
"I'm not surprised. That's big sister,
always worrying about me, still thinking she's my
surrogate Mom." She
finished her Breezer and stood up. "They treat me like I've got fucking
leprosy. You should have seen the looks I got today." She shook the empty
bottle. "I'm going to get another one; are you sure you don't want one?"
I shook my head and stood up too.
"The girls all stared at me.
The staff ignores me; God only knows what they gossip about. *I* don't
know because nobody wants the junkie slut in their little cliques."
Devorah's tone was becoming more strident; she was practically shouting.
She went inside.
I followed her.
She stopped in the hallway
and leaned back against the wall. "You know, I was more accepted in the
joint. Everyone knew what I did and nobody cared! Nobody judged me!" She
looked at me with tears running down her face. "God Alex, I should go back
to Taconic! I don't need Rebbetzin Wasserman's pity!"
shrieking; she was also scaring the crap out of me.
"I don't know
what the fuck I'm doing! What am I doing? What the fuck..."
grabbed Devorah's arms and kissed her, more to shut her up than anything
Shocked, we drew back slightly and stared at each other for a
moment before we grabbed at each other, kissing furiously. I pressed her
against the wall and ran my fingers through her hair; she grabbed my back
and pulled me to her as we kissed each other's mouths, necks and faces. I
pulled her blouse out of her skirt and ran a hand up her front. She moaned
as I squeezed her breasts. She ground against my hard-on, then bunched up
her skirt and wrapped one leg around me. I reached under her skirt,
grabbed her ass, oh God it was so round and soft!, and yanked her upwards.
Devorah wrapped her legs around my hips, still kissing me and tearing at
my shirt buttons. I staggered backwards, smashing a lamp and mirror off a
"You win," Devorah gasped.
didn't make it to the couch."
She unbuttoned her blouse and
unhitched her bra. I buried my face in her tits as we careened into her
living room and toppled over onto the couch. I started to roll onto her
when she pushed me back into a sitting position.
whispered, "Me on top." She straddled me, grinding her sopping panties
over the bulge in my pants as I kissed her breasts, sucking on and teasing
the nipples. My mind was a blank. All I wanted to do was fuck Devorah and
fuck her hard; nothing else mattered. Sliding off me, she pulled off her
skirt and panties. "Lose these," she said, tugging at my pants.
kicked off my shoes, pulled down my pants and jockeys and tossed them
aside. I sat back down on the couch, my cock jutting up into the air.
Devorah leapt up and plunged down on me, taking me inside her in one
fluid motion. She was wet and hot; I slid right in. She clenched her knees
at my side. I squeezed her ass as she lay her ankles on my knees. I thrust
into her, tonguing her breasts as best I could as she bounced up and down.
We were loud, moaning and grunting as we humped with abandon. As I rushed
towards the point-of-no return, I caught a momentary flash of a woman, not
Devorah, at once ravishing and terrible, seductive and daunting, seething
with many passions. The apparition vanished, replaced by a rapid
succession of strange visions. A woman riding a man, torturing him, then a
stone building crashing down. A mostly-naked woman dancing before a king
and then servants bearing a severed head. A man and a woman quarreling on
a rooftop in thunderstorm. All the women were different, yet they were
also the same. The rooftop! I knew that place! I strained to see more but
the visions fell away as I exploded, my orgasm roaring through me as I
spasmed again and again, filling Devorah with my fluids.
screamed, writhing in afrenzy, as she came; her pussy contracted in a
violent rhythm, gripping my cock and milking me dry. Gradually, she
relaxed and collapsed onto me, murmuring softly as I nuzzled her neck and
caressed her ass.
"Mmm," she mumbled, "*That* was fantastic. You
Still lost in an intense post-orgasmic rush, I made no
reply. Slowly, slowly, I floated down to earth. Acutely aware of Devorah's
nearly naked body on me, I was still inside her, I thought about what we
had just done. We had shattered the sacred law in a frenzy of passion. Was
this why the Song of Songs had described human sexuality as being, "as
terrible as an army with banners"? Worst of all, I had loved it, loved
every second of it. I loved the feel and taste of Devorah's body, her
lips, her tongue, her breasts. I loved her scent and every thrust into her
Devorah snapped me out of my reverie. "Pangs of conscience?"
"Are you wondering what it is we have done?" she asked
in an affected voice, "Did I beguile you?"
"What are you talking
"Do you blame me, or resent me, for seducing you?"
"You didn't seduce me. I wanted
to do it."
"You're honest; I like that. Do you regret doing it?"
"But we're not married. Care to change your answer?"
What the hell was she going on about? "No."
stallion." There was that pleased schoolteacher look again!
with you? Who are you?"
"First ask yourself who you are and what
you want, Alex, and then we'll talk." She smiled.
rang. I grabbed it. "Yeah?"
"Come down to the station," Joey said,
"Right now please."
"What's going on?"
"Come down and see."
"OK, I'm on my way." I hung up
and looked at Devorah.
I dressed and went out to the
van without saying another word. As I pulled into traffic, my BlackBerry
rang again. I plugged it into the hands-free. "Hello?"
was Rabbi Asher.
"Yeah, go ahead."
"I got your emails."
"The translation is pretty straightforward. The ancient
script letters and the square letters, you know, the ones we all use,
"What's it say?"
"Something like 'desperate villain' or 'needy
"What? What's wrong?"
mean 'fiend in need'?"
"'Fiend in need', yeah, that works. And one
more thing, Hebrew being Hebrew, the words are in the feminine. Your
'fiend in need' is a she."
I felt queasy.
"Alex? Are you
"No, I'm not." I was almost at the station. "I'll call
you back. Gotta go."
I hung up. Did Rabbi Asher
just rule out Esther's husband as a possible suspect, was Devorah
seriously whacko or was somebody else involved? I figured I would go see
what Joey wanted and then go have it out with Devorah. I parked the van
and walked into the seven-one. The desk sergeant waved me upstairs.
I marched into the squad room and stopped cold. "What the fuck is she
doing here?" Kochava Chait, in a short skirt and a tank-top, sat in front
of the desk next to Joey's.
"She's why I called," Joey replied, "We
picked her up."
"Whacking Rabbi Belkin? No,
"Are you kidding?"
"No. One of our undercovers
nabbed her trolling over on Seventh. She had this and said to call you."
Joey handed me the card that I had given to Kochava's mother. "Oh, and we
figured out that message on the hotel mirror."
five letters in the ancient Hebrew alphabet. You know what that is,
"It says 'Li-LEET' or, as she's known in
English, Lilith, mother of demons, Adam's first wife, according to some,
mentioned in Isaiah 34:14."
"Yeah, wait I gotta
take this call." Another detective was frantically waving a phone from
across the room in an effort to catch Joey's eye. "Here, check out the
I stepped around to look at his monitor as he walked
over to take the phone, and read.
"Now do you get it, detective?,"
Kochava asked in a low, but triumphant, voice, "Our Mistress has
Our? "But Devorah..," I whispered, sputtering.
"Ha, she's gone."
I wilted as I scanned the entry. I saw that the
Hebrew word also meant some kind of owl and that she sometimes appears as
one. Fiend in need, hell.
"Yeah, quite a hottie." Joey was back.
"There was more graffiti at Ner Israel. *Navala nizkeket*, means
'desperate villainess' or something like that. We figure our perp is some
broad who really, really hates men. Oh, that principal, Mrs. Wasserman,
she was very cooperative, thank you."
"No problem," I forced myself
"Whaddya want us do with Miss Hot-to-Trot here? She's got
no record. Warn her & let her go?"
"Yeah, do that. But her
get-out-of-jail-free card expires today." I tore up the card. "Put her in
the tank and lose her paperwork for a while. Computers can go down, all
kinds of stuff can happen, right? Let her sweat a bit."
problem." Joey called downstairs for a uniformed woman officer to come and
fetch Kochava. His cellphone rang. "Yeah? Oh, Holy Mary, can't it wait?
OK, I'll be right up." He closed his phone. "The Captain wants me. I'll be
in touch." We shook hands; Joey headed upstairs.
Kochava flashed me
that shit-eating grin and blew me a kiss as the uniformed officer came and
led her away.
I went out to the van and sat behind the wheel,
stunned. Was Devorah possessed by a demon? That would explain a lot,
almost everything in fact. Fuck. My BlackBerry rang again. CallerID said
it was Carl.
"Hey, my man. I got your owl and
"Lilith," I interrupted, "a big-time demon."
"Hoo-eee, if there are more like her in Hell, I'm gonna have to start
being, you know, less virtuous. Check ya' later."
was already early evening, just starting to get dark. I drove to the
yeshiva where Rabbi Asher taught an advanced Talmud class to rabbinical
students. I flashed my ID at the security guard, said it was an emergency
and asked where I could find Rabbi Asher. I found the room and opened the
Rabbi Asher caught sight of me, excused himself to his
students and came over. "Alex, what..."
"Tell me about Lilith."
Rabbi Asher stared at me for a few seconds. "I guess you should talk
to Rabbi Abulafia."
"I guess I should."
He dismissed his
class and followed me out to the van. "I'll call him; you drive."
We got in; he dialed as I backed out into the street.
waited in an alley down the block from Devorah's brownstone, trying to
remember everything that Rabbi Abulafia had told me. Devorah left the
house and walked the other way. I followed and overtook her near Prospect
"Hi," she said.
"So, do you still strangle infants?"
Lilith grinned. "I haven't strangled an infant since...about the last
time I had Indian food. It's so ninth century."
A mask of fury descended over her face. "Who bugger their
daughters?," she growled. "He had it coming." The mask lifted; she smiled,
"Literally and figuratively."
"You have no
idea. Mmm, you're not shocked to be in my presence."
"Given your experience with the supernatural, no."
Now I was shocked.
"Oh yes, I know all about you and Esther."
"But how?" I stammered, very confused.
"Do you like to watch,
Alex? I *love* to watch." She grabbed my wrist and squeezed tightly.
I stand on the roof of a building. It is dark. Wind whips
around me; rain falls in sheets. I shiver; fuck, it's cold. My pussy
tingles; I'm a woman?! A man stands a few yards away, clutching a small
"I'm up here," I say, "Surely you don't want to do it
up here in the rain?"
"Stay back!" the man cries, "You're just like
her. You give me no peace!"
"No," I reply, "I thought I gave you
something much better. I could bend over the railing here in the
"Shut up! I know what you want! You won't have it!"
"I bind you, Lilith, with the Holy Name..." There is
a burst of loud static. "...Stand!"
I stand rooted to the spot,
unable to move or speak.
"I know who you are. I'll be revenged on
you and Esther both!"
He tucks the manuscript into his coat and
leans in so close that I can feel his breath. He whispers:
now, the flame!
My soul for the gage!
By the Holy Name..." There is
a burst of static. He grabs the back of my head with one hand and
continues, "This place be your cage!"
I want to scream and howl but
I can't. He senses this and sneers before kissing me hard and grabbing the
lightning rod with his other hand. The sky erupts as a lightning bolt
slams into the rod, flaying our souls from our bodies, which are burnt to
ash and cinders that scatter in the wind. Yosef, the bastard, flies to the
damnation he deserves. The strumpet whose body I've taken goes to her
reward. The electric discharge conducts me down into the building...and
leaves me there. My body is bricks, mortar, steel beams, pipes and wiring.
I want to scream and howl even more but I can't.
let go of my wrist; we were back by Prospect Park, which she turned into
after cocking her head ever so slightly, as if she was listening to
I followed. "*You* were the reason Esther's husband..."
"...Yosef wasn't sleeping with her. He was sleeping
"Very good, detective, A+. Go on."
"You were in
the building itself?!"
Lilith nodded. "You're on a roll."
"And were released when Meyer Silverstein knocked it down. Fire and
"But why didn't Esther warn me about
you? Why didn't Rabbi Abulafia detect you?"
"Those bursts of static that you
heard, do you know what they were?"
I shook my head.
pronounced Names of God, which he discovered in that ancient manuscript he
was studying. The Names and their permutations are power; whoever knows a
Name, and can pronounce it correctly, can command nature, and unlock and
control vast power. He can alter and mould reality. You heard static
because the pronunciation of a Name cannot be recorded or reproduced,
either electronically or magically. A spell sealed with a Name is perfect
and cannot be detected. Esther didn't know I was there; Rabbi Abulafia
couldn't detect me even if he wanted to."
"You saw everything."
"Honey, I had a ringside seat. And after I saw what a stud you were, I
said, 'Oooh, I gotta get me some of that.' And believe me, I am *not*
"And the fortune cookies?"
"Have you ever worked with the Chinese?"
"I had a run-in with a tong gang once."
"I mean demons. You
think I'm weird? They're a whole different league."
"I'll take your
word for it. What do you want?"
"Isn't it obvious? You."
"What about Devorah?"
"A girl has to live somewhere. I..." Lilith
put up her hand. "Wait." She cocked her head again. "We're about to have
company...four of them, friends of yours, I imagine. Let them get the drop
on us. Follow my lead but otherwise do nothing; watch and learn,
I didn't but I nodded anyway.
By then we were
fairly deep inside a wooded section of the darkened park, by the lake. The
only light came from a solitary pole. I discerned two figures in front of
us and become aware of two more behind; we were surrounded. From behind
us, I heard the unmistakable sound of a semi-automatic weapon being
"That's far enough fuckface," one of the figures in front
of us said. "You and your bitch hold it right there." It was Joline's ex;
next to him was his idiot friend. "Take out your piece and toss it in
front of you nice and slow."
I glanced at Lilith. She nodded ever
so slightly. I tossed my piece in front of us.
Jewboy. Me and Leroy here, we got some business with you, kike." Leroy
handed a chain to Joline's ex and pulled brass knuckles and a length of
pipe out of his long coat. I looked behind me. One asshole had what looked
to be an Uzi; the other held a length of pipe and a chain. "But first,
we're gonna show your girlfriend a hot time. You like dark meat, baby?"
"Oh, I'm way too hot for you, licorice breath," Lilith cooed, "Go back
to your buttbuddies."
"We gonna put the fear of God into you,
bitch!" he snarled, advancing on her. She didn't flinch. "Yeah," he
mumbled, grabbing the back of her head. "Give us a kiss."
With incredible speed, Lilith grabbed the back of his head and pushed his
face into hers. He howled and dropped the chain. The hideous stench of
burning flesh, along with the pungent reek of him shitting himself,
pierced the air. Joline's ex convulsed and screamed uncontrollably as
Lilith gripped his head. Finally, after about ten seconds, she let him go.
He staggered back; his face a horrible mask of charred skin and tissue.
Shrieking madly, he ran off toward the lake.
Lilith glanced at the
ground and motioned with her hands. I dropped. She pointed at her feet and
then at one of the dirtbags behind me. Three small rocks flew up and
smashed his mouth and jaw, one after the other, in rapid succession. He
dropped the Uzi and reeled, the lower half of his face a mass of bloody
pulp, and stumbled off into the dark.
Leroy swung his pipe. Lilith
raised the palm of her hand; he stopped cold, astonished.
up," Lilith said. Leroy rose at least 15 feet in the air.
does asshole wanna come down?" Lilith asked in an affected voice,
obviously enjoying herself. She waved her arm...
Leroy flew off
over the lake.
...and brought it down sharply.
plummeted into the water.
I got up and watched as Lilith turned her
attention to the last punk, who stood shaking like a leaf, scared
shitless, literally. She held her breath as she took the pipe and chain
from his hands, snapped the former over her knee and pulled the latter
apart. She scowled at him and raised her hands. "BOO!"
turned and ran smack into the light pole, hard, knocking himself out cold.
Lilith laughed and turned to me. "Fear of God? Ha, look at what goes
on in this city; nobody's afraid of Him anymore. But you and me Alex,
we'll give them something to be afraid of, hmm? You want to clean up this
town? Be my consort and we'll cauterize it!"
"And you'll promise me
what, riches, power, long life?"
"If those are what you want, sure,
but I can offer you something more."
"Such as?" I had no idea what
"Fulfillment, a sense of purpose. They," she pointed
back towards the borough, "will never accept you. You slave for them and
clean up their shit and they despise you for it. How long will you
humiliate yourself like that? You're better than any of them! Come with
me. I live in a world that you've barely glimpsed. Ghosts and Chinese
demons aren't the half of it. Come with me, and I'll show it to you. I'll
make it your world. You deserve it. Come with me!" She extended her hand.
"And if I decline?"
"Don't. I'm used to getting what I want and
right now I want you. Refusing me would be most ill-advised. Allow me to
illustrate. When we were fucking earlier, what did you see?"
"Very good. Go on."
"I saw..." I remembered a woman
riding a man, torturing him, then a stone building crashing down. "Samson
and Delilah?! You were Delilah?!"
"Do you think a simple Philistine
peasant girl could have seduced and destroyed the mighty Samson? He wasn't
so mighty when he was writhing beneath me, begging to tell me his secret
if only I would let him come."
I was stunned.
"Um, I saw a woman dancing, stripping, before a king and then a
severed head. What..."
"You should read the Gospels, they won't
bite, or try Josephus. It has been painted many times although none of
them get it quite right. Salome danced for her step-father Herod Antipas,
who was so enamored that he promised her anything she wanted. I made her
ask for John the Baptist's head on a plate. She got it. I wanted Samson
and John the Baptist. They spurned me. Please don't make the same
"Or you'll kill me?"
"Oh, no," she smiled. "Alex,
dear, it's like this. You can help me raise hell or I'll make your life
hell. Either way, you're stuck with me; I will *never* leave you alone.
Personally, I think being my consort will be much more pleasant."
looked at her.
She flexed her arms and looked at the backs of her
hands. "This will do, for now. Like I said, a girl has to live somewhere,
but I can be anyone. You can fuck any woman you want, whoever you fancy,
and it will be me. It will be us; it will always be us. Think about it. By
the way, this is yours." She handed me a crumpled $20 bill, which I
recognized as the one I had given the bag lady in front of Kochava's
"What about Devorah?"
"What about her?"
"Why do you hate her?"
"Do you know what the worst sin is?
Weakness. From her sister, to Enrique Jimenez, to the Wassermans, she has
never decided anything on her own in her life. Pitiful!"
decide for me."
"I'm offering you a choice. You can do better than
a helpless junkie."
I pulled my piece and pointed it her.
"Go ahead. Who are you going to shoot?"
I didn't say anything.
"When Samson brought the house down, Delilah was killed, not me. I'm
still here. If you shoot this body, it and Devorah will die. I'll just
find someone else and then, remember that part about making your life
hell? Think about it."
A jogger ran in on us. She stopped short,
saw me pointing my Smith & Wesson at Lilith, the unconscious jerk-off
sprawled on the ground and the Uzi next to him, and bolted before I could
I glanced up and spotted the owl on a branch,
illuminated by the light from the pole. It appeared to be in a state of
torpor, just like Rabbi Abulafia said it would.
Lilith followed my
gaze. "Don't even think about it. You'll never get a shot off. In fact,
give it here." She started to extend her arm and then stopped, amazed. Her
arm shook as if she were trying to extend it fully but couldn't. Amazement
turned to fury. "Do as...you're...told!" she snarled, struggling to say
the words. Her face contorted in a grotesque visage. Her eyes...for a
brief second, they were...
I took aim with the laser sight and
opened fire. The first shot went through the owl's breast; it tumbled to
the ground, severed almost in half, a mess of blood, feathers and torn
Lilith glared at me in abject shock. She raised her hands as
if to attack me, but screamed as her body racked with convulsions, before
collapsing. For an instant, over Devorah's crumpled body, I saw Lilith,
much as I had seen her before, ravishing and terrible, seductive and
daunting, her face twisted in raw hatred. She vanished.
I rushed over, sat down on the ground and took her in my
She appeared dazed. "Alex?"
"I'm here. It's alright;
"Alex!" she focused on me and smiled for an instant.
"I fought her. She was so strong. But you had to shoot...Oh God," said,
her expression dropping, "Rabbi Belkin, oh God." Devorah burst into tears.
I rocked her as she sobbed.
"She killed him, she killed him
and all I could do was watch! These hands," she held up her hands, "She
grabbed his neck, I feel his neck! I see his eyes!" Devorah looked up into
my eyes. "And what she did to you. I thought, I dreamed we might get
married. I didn't want it to be like that." Her voice trailed off. "Oh
God, Alex, I'm sorry..." She burst into tears again.
"Listen to me,
I love you and I want to marry you..."
"But I'm going to jail.
Nobody will ever believe us! They'll think we're crazy! Oh God, I'm going
to jail forever."
"Whatever happens, I love you. Devorah, will you
Devorah nodded. We were about to kiss but we stopped and
"She showed me Samson and John the Baptist!"
heard many feet approaching fast.
"NYPD! FREEZE! Hands up, right
"Ask for a lawyer immediately," I whispered to her quickly as
we raised our hands, "and don't say a word. If they want DNA, make them
get a court order."
That would take time,
although for what, I had no idea.
I had been in the
interrogation rooms at the seven-one many times but never as a suspect.
"Alex," Joey said, exasperated, "You gotta say something for
"The coffee sucks," I muttered, "Same as always."
"The DA's getting a court order for Debbie's..."
"Debbie, Devorah, whatever. The DA's getting a court order for her
DNA. We will match it to the dried secretions we found at the school and
on Rabbi Belkin. We already got her prints from the hotel."
with a hundred other peoples'. CSI's worst nightmare, remember?"
"Shit, Alex, we're bringing in the desk clerk. He will ID Deb...Devorah in
a line-up. She ain't no pro so chances are, his memory will improve; he'll
give her up easy. We got her for murder; don't go down with her. And then
we got you..."
"Great Horned Owls, bubo
virginianus, are protected under the US Migratory Bird Act..."
attacked Devorah. I was defending her."
"Oh, bullshit! The DA is
also looking at conspiracy and obstruction, and firearms, charges. And
then there's the Uzi and the gangbanger with the busted nose we found laid
out next to you. His prints are on the Uzi but fuck if he don't have more
shit in his head than he had in his pants. He says your fiancée beat the
bejesus out him *and* his three buddies. Two of them showed up at Kings
County Hospital Center, one with his face extra crispy and the other with
bloody sausage for a jaw. We're still looking for the third."
sipped my coffee.
"Alex, why are you holding out on me? I know you
got religion and everything but this isn't like you! We been friends for
how long? What the hell is going on here, buddy? C'mon, it's me, your
Joey and I had been partners, and friends, for years. We
faced bullets together. "I know how bad this looks..."
girlfriend's the fucking Titanic and she's gonna pull you down with her!"
"I can't say anything."
"Can't or won't? What, are you some
kind of fucking spook?"
Someone rapped on the door and opened it.
It was one of the other detectives. "Hey, Captain wants to see you, right
"Sit tight, I'll be right back."
I tipped my styrofoam
cup to Joey. I was trying to figure out what to do. Joey was right. They
had Devorah dead-to-rights. I didn't want to call Rabbi Abulafia. He
wasn't a lawyer and I certainly did not want to get him involved. I was
thinking I should call Rabbi Asher and ask him to contact Rabbi Abulafia
and ask him about getting a lawyer we could trust when Joey walked back in
and put my Smith & Wesson on the table.
"The DA has decided not to
press any charges against you or your fiancée. Our investigation is over;
the case is closed. You're both free to go."
"Alex, I got no idea. This is what the Captain instructed me to tell
you. Somebody's waiting for you downstairs."
I holstered my piece
and followed Joey out into the hallway. Devorah came out of one of the
other rooms. "What's happening?"
"I don't know."
Rabbi Asher was waiting for us. "Here are your
tefillin, a prayer book, some sandwiches, coffee and the keys to my Buick,
which is right over there," he said as soon as we were outside, "Give me
the keys to your van. Where is it?"
"Rabbi Asher, what..."
"Rabbi Abulafia will explain everything. He's in my car; he'll tell you
where to drive. I'll park your van in the synagogue parking lot; where is
Utterly mystified, I told him that it was in an alley, down
the street from Devorah's brownstone. Devorah and I watched as Rabbi Asher
hailed a cab and got in. "Rabbi Abulafia," I started to explain, "is..."
"I know who he is," Devorah said quietly, "She showed me; she showed
"I'm sorry I didn't tell you."
Rabbi Abulafia asked you to keep it secret. I wouldn't have been so quick
to tell a story like that either. Ghosts are almost as unbelievable as
demons." She smiled.
"I love you."
She blew me a kiss.
We crossed the street and got in. Devorah sat up front next to me.
"Hello Alex, Devorah."
Devorah and I nodded.
Abulafia handed me a card. "Please drive us here."
The card had an
address way out in Putnam County.
"Devorah," Rabbi Abulafia said,
in his soft, faint voice, "You are a remarkable woman."
blushed. "I'm not."
"You resisted a force before which most people
would have simply crumbled."
I thought of 'the strumpet' whom
Lilith had possessed to seduce Yosef.
"A little bit of light came
into my life," Devorah replied, looking at me, "and I wasn't going to let
her shunt me back into the darkness."
"Only a little bit?" I
mumbled in mock-surprise.
"Getting brighter all the time," she
"Please put these around your necks, under your
clothes," Rabbi Abulafia said, handing us what looked to be medallions on
fine silver chains. Writing in the ancient script was etched onto both
sides of the medallions. When we had done so, he said, "They were made in
Sana'a, Yemen, in the 17th century. They will do, for now, until new
amulets, made especially for you, are ready."
asked, "For what?"
"To protect you."
"From who?" I asked.
"From Lilith. You two have made a very dangerous enemy."
she's dead," Devorah said, glancing at me, "Alex shot her, her owl."
"Dead? No. She is diminished, yes, weakened, but only for a while. The
prophet Elijah cursed her. He cast her out of her own body and into an
owl. She cannot assume human form on her own; she can only possess the
bodies of others. When she is not in her owl, it is always nearby, but in
a state of torpor. Her presence in this world depends on it."
"Wait," I asked, "Two days ago she possessed a bag lady, only briefly I
think. Can she possess two people at once?"
"No. Devorah, I suspect
that you were deeply asleep at the time. Otherwise, Lilith would not risk
"Then Kochava Chait…," I said, thinking aloud.
"Followed Lilith only too willingly," Devorah muttered, "Rabbi, what
"She will find a nest with newly-laid eggs, enter one
and wait for it to develop and hatch. When the owlet reaches maturity, she
will be able to attack and possess human women again. She will never stop
hunting you. These amulets will keep her at bay. *Never* take them off."
"But Alex and I want to get married..."
"Thank you. But what about when I have to go to..."
"My beit din
will give you a special authorization to wear it even when you go to the
mikvah. Alex, if you please."
"Um, I have to teach tomorrow,"
"A substitute teacher has already been arranged."
I pulled into traffic and headed for the Whitestone Bridge.
I pulled the Buick into the driveway of a large, isolated, house, in a
wooded area, well off I-684. I saw rented vehicles and several cars with
different diplomatic plates in the driveway. A g-man (you can spot them a
mile away) came over, opened the door for Rabbi Abulafia and helped him
"Hello Rabbi. How was the ride up?"
"Very nice." Rabbi
Abulafia beckoned for Devorah and I to get out of the car. "Alex and
Devorah, please meet Special Agent Mullens."
We shook hands and
followed him inside; Rabbi Abulafia took my arm.
Mullens ushered us
into a large parlor, where the strange shit got a whole lot stranger.
A Roman Catholic cardinal embraced Rabbi Abulafia like they were old
friends and helped him to the chair next to his. Mullens spoke to an
Israeli woman (you can also spot them a mile away). A burly guy and a
thin, pretty young woman were helping themselves to drinks.
Devorah grabbed my arm and stared at the young woman. "Alex, she..."
The young lady noticed and proffered her hand. "I'm Rachel."
"That's Racey," her companion quipped, getting an elbow in the ribs. "I'm
Mullens and the Israeli came over. "This is Anat," he
said, "She's the Mossad station chief in New York and this," he added,
pointing to the prelate, "is Cardinal LeRocque."
drinking?" Locan asked.
"Uh, Irish, neat," I said.
"White wine," Devorah replied, "but..."
pulled a bottle out an ice bucket. "Kosher," he said, waving it, "courtesy
of Anat here."
"OK," Devorah said weakly, still staring at Rachel.
Rachel just smiled.
"Having been possessed by
Lilith for so long," Rabbi Abulafia said, "it appears that you have gained
some of her abilities. You will now find that you can see a great many
things of which you were previously unaware."
"But which are very
real, nevertheless," Cardinal LeRocque added.
"Some of which are
friendly," Rabbi Abulafia continued...
Rachel smiled again.
"...and some of which are not, but which must be dealt with."
"That's where we come in," Locan said.
"Who's 'we'?" I asked.
"Do you find it strange," Cardinal LeRocque asked, "that Rabbi
Abulafia and I are here together?"
"We do not deny or
make light of our differences," Rabbi Abulafia said, "but it is what we
have in common that brings us together."
"Indeed," the Cardinal
added, "You'll find that we speak much the same language."
different dialects," the Rabbi replied. "Alex and Devorah, we are all
agreed that you will make fine Paladins."
"What's a Paladin?"
Special Agent Mullens pulled up chairs for Devorah and I as Locan
handed us our drinks.
"Sit," Cardinal LeRocque said, "And we'll
explain it to you."
Author's Notes for Fiend in Need:
1) a "get" (Jewish divorce): http://www.jewfaq.org/divorce.htm
2) yarmulke: http://www.jewfaq.org/signs.htm#Yarmulke
3) chumash: http://www.jewfaq.org/torah.htm#Chumash &
7) kosher (adjective)/kashrut (noun): http://www.jewfaq.org/kashrut.htm
8) SUNY New Pfaltz: http://www.newpaltz.edu/
9) Klezmer music: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klezmer
11) Stern College: http://www.yu.edu/stern/index.asp
Getting married in New York State: http://www.health.state.ny.us/vital_records/married.htm
13) Pista kulfi: http://www.manjulaskitchen.com/2008/07/22/pista-kulfi-pistachios-ice-cream/
Masala tea: http://www.indiasnacks.com/recipe/535/Masala-Tea.php
Shaving in Judaism: http://www.myjewishlearning.com/practices/Ethics/Our_Bodies
16) Genesee Cream Ale: http://www.geneseecreamale.com/AmericanOriginal/
Saying the "Shema" prayer before bed:
20) "Oy gottenyu": http://www.jfri.org/page.aspx?id=41612
22) mindset for prayer: http://www.jewfaq.org/prayer.htm#Kavanah
23) tefillin: http://www.jewfaq.org/signs.htm#Tefillin
24) "CID" (US Army Criminal Investigation Command): http://www.cid.army.mil/
25) Digital forensics: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_forensics
26) New York City Office of the Chief Medical Examiner:
27) Mineola & Nassau County: http://www.mineola-ny.gov/ & http://www.nassaucountyny.gov/
28) Zeide: http://www.jfri.org/page.aspx?id=41612
29) Kabbalah: http://www.jewfaq.org/kabbalah.htm
31) Ancient Hebrew script: http://www.jewfaq.org/alephbet.htm#Ancient &
32) sitting "shiva": http://www.jewfaq.org/death.htm
33) "terrible as an army with banners": Song of Songs 6:4 & 6:10
34) Salome, John the Baptist & the Dance of the Seven Veils:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salome & http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dance_of_the_seven_veils
35) Lilith: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilith
36) Prospect Park: http://www.prospectpark.org/home
37) Names of God:
39) "the voice of God walking in the Garden": Genesis 3:8
40) Kings County Hospital Center: http://www.nyc.gov/html/hhc/kchc/html/home/home.shtml
41) Mazel tov: http://www.jfri.org/page.aspx?id=41612
42) beit din: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beth_din
http://www.jewfaq.org/sex.htm#Niddah & http://mikvah.org/directory/mikvahPhotos.asp?pageNumber=3
44) Monsey: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monsey,_New_York
45) Jewish weddings: http://www.jewfaq.org/marriage.htm
46) Dybbuk: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dybbuk
47) Citi Field: http://newyork.mets.mlb.com/nym/ballpark/citifield_overview.jsp
48) Wendigo: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Windigo
© 2010 Oxartes. All rights reserved. Content may not be copied or used in whole or part without written permission from the author.
Bio: Oxartes, 47, is the married papa (proud, on both counts!) of two children. He is a professional copyeditor and proofreader who has discovered that he like to write erotica as a hobby. "Writing is like therapy," he says.
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