Monday, March 31, 2014

Strong as Death, VIII

             David was only fifty miles from the orange grove where he patrolled with a rifle by night, and by day sat at Arab cafes drinking coffee, playing dominos, and chatting freely, but he may as well have been on the far side of the moon. 
        In that orange grove, it hardly mattered what he did.  He was the Jew from Baghdad.  For the Palestinian Arabs, he was what he was, without a false self.  That he carried a gun at night did not bother them.  Most everyone in rural Palestine did. 
        He did not need to put on airs with them, to watch his dress or diction or even curb his habit of day dreaming.  Even the reports he had written about these people to the SHA’I were smothered in the  haze of oriental meandering.  What had happened to those reports?  Their details were placed on index cards and stored in a labeled file marked with  the name of each town or village: Jenin, Abu Dis, Tulkarem. 
        Had they performed any useful function?  He would never know, just as he did not know if his work in Damascus served the greater good, or was it just more missteps?

He walked to the American Consulate with his reports crammed into a false heel in his shoe, written in an equally cramped, tiny block script, to save space.  The empty shoe bottom seemed an apt metaphor: Shemesh felt as if the ground he walked on was riddled with holes.


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