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The Azedarach Tree

17 6 6
26.10.2020

Chill autumn gusts whipped the gaunt branches of the azedarach tree across the road and the wind above propelled ragged clouds across the sky. A pale gibbous October moon flickered in the heavens as the clouds passed; the wan light of a streetlamp lit the earth below it. Off to the right, past the tree, in the parking lot by the jerrybuilt shopping center, a heavy man was shouting at the top of his lungs as he emerged from the driver’s seat of a taxicab. It was a quarter to two in the morning, and Eli watched from a half-open third-floor living room window, having just spent ten minutes singing Kobi, his five-year-old, back to sleep.

“Avner!” the cab driver shouted, facing the dark display window of a narrow store that sold candy, lottery tickets, and cheap school supplies. “Avner! Kus emak! I know you’re hiding in there!”

A police car sped past, its siren in unhurried and silent rotation. The Azedarach tree seemed to beseech it with its branches, but the cruiser evaded its grasp.

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Eli was dead tired and had to get up early in the morning, but the shouting man had pierced the fog of drowsiness he’d managed to maintain while singing in the kids’ room and he felt his heartbeat speeding up.

The driver reached into his car, pulled out a bottle of something that glinted dimly in the moonlight, and took a swig. He walked up to the store’s padlocked metal door and banged on it. “Avner! I know you’re inside! Your ex told me!”

Eli heard Kobi whimper and pursed his lips. Didn’t the police notice that this drunk was waking up the whole neighborhood? He wondered if he should call 100 but that would wake him up completely. He headed back to the room where his three children slumbered, deliberately shuffling his feet in the hope that if he acted sleepily, he would stay that way.

He knelt down by Kobi’s bed and whispered in his ear. “Don’t wake up.” He was about to add something else besides, but could not. The boy opened his eyes just for an instant, saw his father, let out a deep breath, and closed them again. Eli........

© The Times of Israel


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