After Andy left her building, Sharon went up to her apartment and did everything she could to not think about him. She finished a novel that she had started months before. There was an hour left before Shabbat ended, so she made herself a salad and ate a solitary seudat shlishit while reading an article that Tamar had written. Then, to do something new, she went to the Carlebach shul hoping that Esther’s sister would come. Even though she didn’t, Sharon still enjoyed the musical havdalah, which lasted almost half-an-hour, only returning to her apartment well after 9 PM. She showered and dressed for lounging, hoping that she wouldn’t have to explain to anybody why she didn’t want to go out that night. With a deep breath, at 10 PM on the dot she lay down in her bed and called Joe with no expectation that he would answer.
Sure enough, he didn’t, but a minute later he called back.
“Hello Joey,” she said, as always. She spoke in her sweetest tone to see how he would respond. “So nice of you to call back.”
“Yeah,” was all he said. “How was Shabbos?”
“It was surprisingly good.”
Should I do this? Yes. “I managed to have a good time, even without you.”
“I guess that’s good,” he replied. Nothing could be determined one way or another. “Anything special?”
She turned over and leaned up on her elbows, kicking her feet. “I went over to Esther’s and had a girls’ night.”
“Just you two?”
“No, her sister was also there. She’s very cool; they both are.”
She sighed. She could tell he was choosing his words. “Yeah, I fell asleep there and only came home around 4:00. But let me ask you, Joey. How was your Shabbat?”
“Fine; I guess I should explain.”
“That would be nice.”
“So, my rabbi invited me on Thursday to his bungalow colony.”
She sat up and looked over at her computer, the screen saver showing a picture of a snowman she and Joe had made in Washington Square Park in her senior year. “You went to a bungalow colony? Where, in the Catskills?”
“How did you get there?”
“I took a bus. It took a few hours, but it wasn’t so bad. I was waiting for a ride where the bus dropped me off when you called, and I think I put you on hold when someone was asking me something.”
“So why couldn’t you tell me that?”
“What do you mean?”
“You got off the phone right after.”
“Right. I caught a ride by a chassid and couldn’t really talk in his car.”
Sharon didn’t believe it. She would test him in another way. She made loud stretching sounds and rolled over on her back. “Whatever you say.”
“You don’t believe me?”
“I don’t know what to believe. You disappeared for a week without calling or anything, and now you tell me that you got off the phone because you were in a car with chassidim?”
“It sounds strange, but it’s the truth.”
“What’s going on, Joey?” she asked him. “Where’ve you been all week?”
“I can’t talk about it now. I’m in the car with some people.”
She found the conversation going exactly where she didn’t want it to. “Who? The chassidim?”
“No, this couple from my rabbi’s bungalow colony who are driving back to Brooklyn.”
“You’re on the highway?”
“Yeah, we’re in the car now.”
“So, would you rather talk when you get back?”
He didn’t answer for a moment. “It’ll be pretty late.”
“Even so.” She dropped her voice, and said with intensity, “I’ve been waiting to get your advice on something.”Immediately he responded, “What’s it about?”“It’s about Andy.”
“Is everything all right?” he asked, the first hint of any feeling in his voice.
She paused, allowing him to imagine anything and everything. It felt strange talking to him with a subtext, but she was beginning to suspect Joe’s erratic behavior and wanted clarity. “Everything’s fine,” she assured him. “I just want your opinion.”
“I’ll try to call when I get home,” he promised.
Sorry for the short chapter this time, but our next installment will make up for it. You can always skip the anticipation and get your copy NOW from www.nathanwolff.com or from Nathan himself on Amazon!