Kalonymous wants to plant something in his “field of dreams” that will honor Fisch and Berl.
* * *
Zayit tried to answer the question Kalonymous had posed in a general way, until he’d gathered more facts from the boy. “Sometimes things seemed like they happened a long time ago because something happened afterwards that erased the good feelings,” he started carefully. “Did something happen after you met Berl and Fisch?”
Kalonymous nodded and pressed his lips together, and Zayit understood that the boy wasn’t ready to talk about it. “So, is it a cow you want?”
“Well, then, I’m going to have to ask you the same question Berl asked Fisch: How are you going to feed it?” asked Zayit.
Kalonymous laughed. “Can I plant some grass?” he asked tentatively.
“Grass is a good idea,” Zayit agreed. “I’ll buy some seed at the shuk next time I go.”
* * *
Later on that evening, Zayit walked over to speak with Motti and Breindl.
After he was seated with a glass of scalding hot tea, the way he liked it, the two men began to talk. Breindl sat at a distance, but close enough to hear what was being said.
“Before I begin, I don’t want Kalonymous to lose trust in me if he knows I repeat to you everything he says,” he began.
“Of course,” said Motti. “I told you we rely on you. We don’t need to know everything.”
“Thank you, I appreciate that trust, but there is something I must ask you about. When I was with Kalonymous today in his field…”
“I must thank you again,” said Motti. “It was such a …”
“Please, let me continue,” said Zayit. “There’ll be plenty of time for thanks later on. He was telling me about two men who found them after they ate poison mushrooms and nursed them back to health. Has he mentioned them? Berl and Fisch? Twins, apparently?”
Motti and Breindl exchanged glances then shook their heads. “He’s never said a word about them. Not the other boys either,” said Motti. “It’s not unusual, though. It’s not like Kalonymous is such a chatterbox. Still, I’m surprised he hasn’t mentioned them to us.”
“We were talking about what he wanted to grow in his field, and he said he wanted a cow. He told me this story about how one of the brothers brought home a half-dead cow that they brought back to life.”
“Hmm,” said Motti. “It sounds like they did the same thing for the cow that they did for the boys. Did he say anything else?”
“Yes,” said Zayit. “This was the strange part. He asked me why it seemed so long ago when it really wasn’t, and when I said it’s usually because something happened in between and asked him if something had happened, he nodded his head. I remember when you brought them home they were in pretty rough shape, but it sounds like these two men took very good care of them. Something must have happened in between.”
“Well, I’m sure the boat ride was very difficult for them. They could have been seasick, or who knows what else,” said Motti.
“Even so, I think it’s worth doing some digging. I have a feeling that whatever ended up happening to those men is what really has them spooked.”
Zayit took a last sip of tea and made an exuberant brachah achronah, before standing up from his place. “Thank you, Rabbanit,” he said to Breindl.
“I’ll walk you out,” said Motti.
The two men stepped out into the cool night air. There were so many fragrances battling for prominence that it was difficult to identify them. There was a strong smell of smoke from outside cooking fires, along with streams of honeysuckle, orange blossom and animal dung. Mixed together it was surprisingly pleasant.
“So what do you think?” asked Zayit. “Maybe the one who originally made contact with your brother will have more details. Perhaps you should get in touch with him,” he suggested.
“That’s a good idea. I’ll send a letter to my brother.”
“No need. I travel to Yerushalayim tomorrow and I will be seeing him. He asked me to make some purchases for him, which I did. You can write a note, or I can speak with him myself,” Zayit offered.
“How about both? I’m sure he has all the information — my brother saves everything,” said Motti.
The words hung between the two friends, each recalling the circumstances under which they met. “Especially you,” said Zayit quietly.
“You saved me too,” said Motti.
“Perhaps, but I did not travel half way across the world to do so! I merely stepped out into my orchard and found you laying there like a burlap sack.”
The two men were silent in the deep night air. “It was a time,” said Motti.
“Yes, it was. Well, I leave tomorrow around seven o’clock in the morning,” said Zayit.
“Fine. I will leave the note for my brother on the wagon seat.”
Motti walked back towards his house, deep in thought. He tried not to think back to that awful time, running and running from the pogrom taking place in Chevron until he collapsed in the middle of Zayit’s orchard. He could remember it like it was yesterday. Perhaps Kalonymous was right, in his own way. The good times are difficult to recall. It’s the hard times that linger, no matter how hard you try to leave them behind.
To be continued . . .