starts to cry behind the thunder. The thun-
der claps and rattles again. Or
has he hurled some-
thing? Or has he hit her?
years my parents might scream the night
away, the one at the other, and in
my fear I would
sneak beneath the blanket and the pillow to seek ref-
uge, and wait for the rain to stop. But while Grandpa
still lived with us,
while I was Grandpa's darling, I
I rise from bed and hurry out from my
room. Flashes of lightning caper through
thunder follows. I make my way swiftly
through the erratic, flickering light,
through the liv-
ing room, to the open door of Annie and Harry's bed-
Harry's voice is wicked. "Well, you didn't help
much. Did you?"
Annie is weeping, her voice rising.
"What could I
say? It isn't ready. You should have told Benny the
"He's got as much brains as your father
comes to business." Death sneer.
in the shadow of the doorway. Annie's
voice is frightened but defiant, as
she holds to her
truth. "You shouldn't have lied to him."
crosses the town and shows blue on my
mother, sitting on the edge of the bed.
Harry, in his underwear, frustrated, paces angrily.
didn't lie to him! The knee isn't a problem! You're
all idiots, and the biggest
idiot is your father, that
religious old hypocrite."
weeps, holding her head.
"Five hundred bucks could
take us all out of this
crap can we're living in. That crap he tells the kid
about God! It isn't from the Talmud. He makes it
up. He's not even Orthodox."
Harry's pacing back and forth across the room. I
stand invisibly in the shadow listening to his
orthodox miser is what he is. Everybody
laughs at him. And that horse!"
I'm shocked to see fully fledged the demonism of
confused, reacts, picking up Harry's com-
ment about Ferdeleh. "Why do
you hate the horse so
"I'd like to
go down this very minute and shoot that
goddamned nag and put it out of its
Annie pulls herself
together and rallies to our
defense. "Davie loves him. What harm does
Harry is very pleased that his favorite subject
condemnation has come up. It shows in the gleeful
anger of his goblin's
voice. "It should be shot and
made into glue. It can barely drag its
feet, it's so old.
It stinks up the whole neighborhood. It's an embar-
rassment. Christ, what a family I married into."
the verge of tears, I turn my back on him, grope
through the living room,
the hall, the kitchen, toward
Grandpa's closed door.
snickering pursues me. "And you've turned
out to be a real prize, haven't
you? You didn't open
your mouth once to help me."
I open the door and make my way to
Grandpa's bed. The rain and thunder continue,
they're gentler now when heard from Grandpa's room.
loses its sinister hues.
I nudge Grandpa, but he doesn't
awake. I have to
nudge him twice.
"Grandpa . .
." Then, with insistence, "Grand-
awakens. "Davie, what is it? You're afraid of the
Grandpa, yawning, sits up. He switches on the lamp
to his bed and puts on his yarmulke. His legs are
over the side of the bed.
He wears long underwear.
"Come, I'll tell you a story."
He motions me to re-
turn to my room.
... I just found out something terrible."
"About Papa. He tells terrible lies."
Grandpa beckons me closer. "That's not a nice
for a son to say about his father. I don't want to
hear you say a thing like
"But he tells lies all the time.
About the Talmud
and about you, and about God."
grimaces and holds me close to him.
"That's not strictly lying, Davie.
It's a difference of
opinion. You can't really call that lying."
Tearfully I continue. "When he says Ferdeleh is old
and should be shot and made into glue... isn't that a
terrible, terrible lie?"
Grandpa stands, hugging me close. "He's just being
foolish, Davie." He carries me back to my room.
tells lies.... He tells terrible lies."
"Don't worry about Ferdeleh..
As long as I'm here, nobody is going to
deleh. Come, I'll tell you a story."
he puts me into my bed and lies down be-
side me. He looks up at the ceiling,
regarding and lis-
tening, and says, "I'm getting a message."
"What is it. Grandpa?"
his finger to his mouth-"Shhh ..." -and
continues listening. "Yes,
all right. . . . Thank you."
He turns to me. "God says that if He
has to make it
rain tomorrow, you'll have a surprise, because you
come with me for a couple of hours."
if it rains?"
Grandpa looks up to the ceiling again
for the ver-
dict, then nods flatly. "Even if it rains."'
snuggle contentedly into Grandpa's side,