After two months at Kushner’s he still had not been transferred to Amsterdam, despite his repeated attempts. He was to establish himself in Buenos Aires as Levy Levinsky and then move on to Amsterdam and make inroads in finding Yossi Kushner, if not retrieve the boy himself.
But his boss was obstructing the promotion, hoping that Levy would marry his only daughter. Ori had Sabbath dinner at Alter Shapira’s house nearly every week. When Shapira found Levy Levinsky was an orphan, he became more fixated than ever on having him as a son-in-law. He would say:
“Why my boy, I can be the father who God, Blessed Be His Name, took away from you!”
The father brought his daughter Bluma out and paraded her like the Torah scroll during the Feast of Weeks. And Ori had to admit, she was an enchanting girl. She was at least ten years younger than Zohar, with long dark lashes and skin the color of porcelain. Zohar was drawn to her, and instead of distancing himself from this entangling arrangement, as he should have, he found himself unconsciously inching toward its solidification. His handler in Buenos Aires, Nadab, was growing impatient.
“No one is pleased,” Nadab, not his real name, explained. Zohar met him at different hotel rooms in Buenos Aires almost every week. Nadab sat on the edge of the bed, and Zohar stood in front of him, like a disobedient boy called before the headmaster.
“Complicated? How?” Nadab sneered. “You are the crème of the crop. The agency has spent a million shekels to train you. Are you such a poor clerk that you can’t get a promotion in a Chasidic warehouse?”
“You are looking at this in the wrong way,” Zohar explained to Nadab firmly, but averting the man’s gaze. “Kushner & Son’s isn’t a government bureaucracy. There's no civil service exams. It's a family business. Everyone is related to everyone else, either by marriage or blood. That is how you get ahead.”
“So that’s it hah,” Nadab laughed, reclining his large body to one side, resting his elbow on the bed, as if he was at Passover Seder. “They want you to marry this little matriarch? Then Amsterdam would be in reach?”
“Yes, Nadab, obviously... but…”
“Yes, obviously it would be a breach of protocol to marry her for a transfer.”
“Of course,” Zohar stood firm, but he could feel Nadab fishing about the edges of their mutual expectations.
“And it wouldn’t lead quid pro quo, to an Amsterdam transfer, now would it?” Nadab added, a statement tinged with the exigencies of the moment, a question mark for Zohar to scrutinize in a dingy hotel room in Buenos Aires, like the wisps of smoky light, forming and un-forming through the cracks in the beat up shade.