Up to the kitchen for breakfast.
is in the bedroom. He lies, pajamaed, on the
bed. The door is open. Morning
light pours through
the window. He's feeling swell. Harry, the father, my
father, calls out, "We're going fishing," informing me
I'm not go
go with Zaideh and Ferdeleh. I'm to jump
with joy at the announcement?
"I don't like fishing!" I shout back at him, finishing
my meal hurriedly, hoping I can escape him,
to spend more time together," he says.
"We're going fishing."
"But I don't want to go fishing!" I look imploring-
ly at my mother and my grandfather. She is busy bak-
ing and will not defend
me. "Your father wants to
spend more time with you," she says.
Why? Who wants it?
"Don't we get
fresh air in the lanes? Don't we get
fresh air on the mountain?"
"But you'll be going to the country. The air is pure
there. It will do you good."
"It will not do me
good!" I insist.
Harry yells from the bedroom, "Why
don't you get
him a haircut?" Apropos of nothing. "He looks like
Annie stands still, surprised, and defiant.
cutting his hair. Harry!" she shouts back. She sends me
a loving glance. But I feel she has betrayed me any-
whisper to Grandpa across the table, "But I don't
He makes a soothing, dismissive gesture and rises.
"Don't go too far," says Mamma, "Papa will be
dressed soon, and you'll be going with him."
Grandpa downstairs. Help him hitch Fer-
come with me next week."
Despair. "It's not fair!"
Grandpa mounts the wagon. Staring down from
the seat, he
looks as wretched as I. "It won't be so
terrible. It'll be nice. A day
in the country."
I look at Ferdeleh. I hug him. Kiss
The wagon rolls from the courtyard, through the
gates to the street.
"It won't be bad," Grandpa
repeats. "You'll come
And I follow
behind calling. Calling. "But I don't
want to go fishing! I don't like
Grandpa and Ferdeleh depart. Vanishing.
father and I walk down the stairs together, with
fishing rods, to the empty
court, with Grandpa and
are we going?" I ask.
"First we're gonna go and
get Uncle Benny."
Maybe we'll go out in a boat. That,
at least, will be
Panet Street, Edna is plying her trade, gently
coaxing a client into her parlor.
I wave. Harry tenses;
the puritan bustles me along past this tender spot.
disdains whores and horse shit, but his tense, prurient
the former simmers, choking up his stom-
ach, mouth, and cheeks, keeping his
and alert. Is it to divert us both that he asks me, "Do
you know the story about the rabbi and the priest on
No. I'm embarrassed, and I don't want to hear, but
want him to know.
"Well, there's this old rabbi, with
a long white
beard, like Grandpa's, and this old priest, and they're
together on a train, and after a long, long
time they get into conversation.
And the priest leans
forward and asks the rabbi. Tell me, did you ever eat
pork?' and the rabbi turns red, and he confesses that
once, when he was very
young, he had had a slice of
bacon round at a goyisha friend's house. They
talk for a while. Then the rabbi leans forward and
asks the priest.
Tell me, did you ever go with a wom-
an?' and the priest turns red, and he
once when he was very young, before he entered the
he did go with a woman. And the rabbi leans
forward and says, 'It's better
than pork, isn't it?'"
I don't understand, but Harry
seems very pleased
with himself. He asks me if I know any jokes. I know
the simple children's round of the countyard. "Why
did the chicken .
. . ?" And I knew a few of Grand-
pa's riddles. Shyly I ask, "What's
green, hangs on a
wall, and whistles?"
herring," says Harry, killing the joke. "You can
paint it green,
and hang it on a wall. So it doesn't
let it pass. Grandpa told me another good one
last week. Perkily I ask, "What
does a wise man do
before he drinks tea?"
don't know. What?" With no time allowed for
him to think. He doesn't
"He opens his mouth," I say. Harry half-smiles,
listening, his mind on the next one he's going to ask.
one part horse, one part camel, and one
With a smile he answers, "Ferdeleh! Ferdeleh!
should have guessed that . Anyone could guess
hurt, and sad, even though I know that that
really is a stupid joke. If Ferdeleh
was one part any-
thing, he was one part human.
My father and I walk along
the streets of my Mon-
treal. Going fishing.
has a telephone in one hand, the man who speaks
so quickly, the receiver to
his ear, as I poke my head
around the door. "Ils convent an tournant
Ie deuxieme quart." They're coming around the turn
into the second quarter.
There are lots of faces. Bodies.
The room is fog-
filled with cigar and cigarette smoke. "Beezlebub
deux longueurs." Beezlebub by two lengths. Shoes, legs
trousers. "Lady Luck seconde, Hottentot troisieme
par deux longueurs."
Hottentot third by two lengths.
Everyone is listening to the man who talks
Les autres chevaux a quelques longueurs en arriere."
The other horses a few lengths behind. "Jockant pour
demeurer en position."
Jockeying for position. All
listen tensely. "Et Martha's Pet la derniere.
longueurs en arriere." Martha's Pet running last, eight
Harry and Benny are listening with intense
"When are we going fishing?"
I shout out.
Mr. Solomon, the bookie, shouts back sharply,
"Harry! Get that kid out of here!"
He's very annoyed.
He doesn't want the door kept
open or, worse, a child to be seen on his premises.
Harry comes over to the door. Controlling his im-
he keeps his voice low. But it's sharp. "I
told you to wait here!"
He closes the door in my face.
the door. He's already turned his back, inch-
ing forward, toward the desk
and the teller, the black-
board with its scribbled odds.
you said we were going fishing!"
Mr. Solomon gives
Harry another dirty look.
Resigned, he starts for the door.
He pushes me
through. Back into the cigar store. "Now, come and
down...." Harry leads me by the hand, very im-
patiently, to a small
table in the comer of the cigar
shop. He goes to the counter to buy some more
The teller's voice from the other room
through the door softly: "Il est Beezlebub et Lady
Beezlebub and Lady Luck.
"Here's another chocolate
... and here's another
comic book . . . we'll go fishing next week. Uncle
Benny and me's got business here I have to attend to.
Read the comic book.
You like comic books. I won't
rods lean dejected against the wall by
the little round table. Click my heels.
What's in this
book? Stupid funny pictures. I'm bored. And precious
Uncle Benny now opens the door and runs excited-
Harry, holding a wad of bills in his hand. He
can hardly talk, he's so excited.
"We won! We won!
You did it Harry!" Ecstasy. "The long shot
Twenty to one. We won a hundred bucks! We won!
You did it, Harry.
You did it."
Harry's face relaxes. Beatitude. He splits
evenly, counting carefully and silently. Then he
knew it. I felt it." Harry is in a high. At
peace with himself. "Our
first act as partners, Benny.
It's an omen." He hands Benny his half.
Benny pulls the racing form from his pocket and
out on the table. "What do you like in the next
race?" Benny bubbles.
But Harry looks at the winnings in his hands and
around the store. He gets up and goes to
the cigarette counter.
drift about at the rear, bodies drifting
through the drifting slanted sunlight,
died at the post." "Mine shoulda died at the post."
had a hunch . . . but I didn't follow it." Tearing up
bits of paper, hopes. Sad light bodies drifting.
a large box of chocolates ... and some
soda and more candy for Davie.
"This is Annie's favorite chocolate."
comes back to the table. Now that the world is
fairer, he can give some care
to me. He tries to in-
volve me. He needn't bother. He bends half over me,
pointing to the racing form. "Davie . . . you pick the
next one.... Here...
pick a number...."
I sigh and comply. "That one."
Harry looks and smiles. "Number seven. Put a fin on
number seven, Benny. It's four to one."
hurries to the rear.
My happy father, happy Harry, stares
at his win-
nings, looks at me. "My luck's changing. ... I knew
I solved the problem of the knee with a soft tape.
Benny's arranging for a
bank loan. We won't need a
penny of the old miser's money. You're nothing
this world without money, Davie...."
we going fishing? If we're not going fishing,
I'd like to go home."
"We'll go home soon. Davie ... it's not right to lie
to your mother, but a little white lie isn't so bad. I'll
buy some fish, and
we'll tell her we went fishing."
"But we didn't
go fishing. We came here."
"I know. And it's a
lie. And we shouldn't lie, but
I'll tell her after the baby is born. I don't
want to up-
set her now. We're going to have a good life now.
The cigar store in front, a blind for the illegal
is empty now of all but me and Harry and the
bored clerk behind the counter.
Picking his nose. The
punters, with their gray fading faces and false hopes,
have vanished to the rear. Just me and my father.
Empty, endless room. Stagnant
space. Again the
droning teller's voice flying faintly through. False
hopes. And Harry rambling on.
"Now that the bank loan
is coming through, we're
on our way. We're going to move out of that smelly
neighborhood into Outremont, maybe Westmount
My name will be in the papers
- Harry Herman, the
inventor. Not just the creaseless trouser. That's only
the beginning. You'll go to college ... be whatever
you want to be. Come into
the business, if you want
to. Maybe you'll study law. Whatever. Herman and
Son. We'll have a house in the country. I'll raise
horses, real thoroughbreds,
not like that smelly old
nag of Zaideh's. We'll be respected in this city."
Silence. Dead-fish pause.
known and respected."
Uncle Benny reappears, shaking
his head. The
horse has lost
Harry shrugs philosophically.
"You can't win 'em
Harry turns. Returning. Poised between
here. Life hurries by. False hopes fading. Harry is out
"You just remember we went fishing!
Come on ... I better buy some fish
before that store
He grabs the fishing
rods, and drags me after.
Uncle Benny, pondering the racing
form, looks up.
"I'll stick around for a few more races, Harry. I feel
lucky today." Eyes back to the form, he mumbles to
Laurie ... now, that could be the one
in the next race." He shuffles
toward the rear, as Harry,
in haste, pulls me out of the door.