Desecrating Shabbat

The pool was the main reason Sy had moved into the building. Dr. Schwartz prescribed daily exercise, and what was better than swimming? Get the heart racing without punishing the old bones. Best of all, the time to unwind and think.

Only it wasn’t like that. The pool was always full of these strapping young goys who swam laps as though masturbating in public.

The only time Sy knew with certainty the pool would be empty was Friday night at nine when they were out engaging in mating rituals.

Sy tried to keep Shabbat by praying, but sometimes he forgot.

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El Pais Seco

The coyote assured them there would be water stations set in the desert by kindly Americanos, but the only one they’d come across in a hundred kilometers of walking was hacked into ruin, the tank shot full of holes and dry as a bone.

Gustavo felt his tongue swelling in his mouth, the sun heavy as a blanket on his neck and shoulders.

He shook the remaining gallon jug of water, mostly gone. The children had long since stopped crying, trudging in silence, one weary foot in front of the other.

The mountains swayed in the heat, never getting closer.


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I came here in 1946. I was lucky.

Uncle Abram had some pull with the State Department. He had a job for me and a place to live. After a couple years, I got my own apartment on Amsterdam next door to Orwasher Bakery where I worked.

In those days, you’d often see the Nazi tattoos given us at the camps. Some were ashamed and tried to hide them in long sleeves, but I didn’t care. I saw mine as a scar, the same as if I’d survived a fire.

These days you seldom see one at all. People are forgetting.


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