into the kitchen from the window of the
balcony, I can see
into Grandpa's room. Grandpa
sits at his desk reading a Russian newspaper.
more pregnant than ever, is in the kitchen preparing
boiling stove lends cabbage and carrots
to the early-evening still-light,
the city smells, and the
room. Uncle Benny is also here, sits forlorn, de-
The doctor enters the kitchen. Grandpa puts down
his paper and comes through to the kitchen. All at-
tention focuses on the
medical man, who tells us,
very professionally, "It's nothing physical.
I'll leave a
prescription for a nerve tonic."
hands his friend a couple of dollars.
Annie, in turn, takes the prescription
from the doc-
hand. And the doctor, rephrasing his words,
gives the diagnosis again. Harry's
in deep depression,
and there's really nothing to be done medically. We
just have to wait till he comes out of it, like the last
doctor moves to the kitchen door and bids
the Eliases a warm good night. He
opens the door,
comes out, past me, pats my head, and passes into the
twilight, moonlight, balcony, cool. The screen door
swings to with a swoop
and a bang, and I open it
again and enter the kitchen and listen.
Benny speaks as if he were in a trance. "We
got a thousand pairs of trousers
with baggy knees.
The soft tape he used curled up. Every order was sent
back. Maybe you could sell them. Pa?"
at his desk, nods. "You just have to
find a thousand men with swollen
Annie, sad, laughs silently, sits down, and
"Bankrupt. In less than a month, bankrupt."
Benny rejoins sarcastically, "It's made his-
ecstatic, run out to the balcony, run down the
stairs, shouting my joyous
news. "Papa's gone bank-
rupt! We're not moving!" I shout it to
Bondy, who is taking the late groceries from Mr.
as always, in his apron and leather cap, with
his small moustache. Dashing
figure. They both ac-
knowledge the news as best they can, and try not to
I run through the courtyard, shouting to Mrs.
Champlain, the seamstress, and her daughter, Cleo,
my friend, "My papa's
gone bankrupt! We're not mov-
Mrs. Champlain and Cleo grow large, beaming
smiles on their smiling faces.
In the tailor's shop there's a secret meeting. Shad-
and daggers. Communist party branch meeting?
The swelling revolution's five
local members plotting
in the darkness a brighter new world. Mr. Baumgar-
ten is giving a lecture. "Two steps forward . . . one
Lenin's new economic policy does
not mean the reintroduction of capitalism.
It is a
temporary, necessary compromise to save the revolu-
tion. . .
. Don't throw the baby out with the bath-
door is flung open, and I whirl in.
A strange collection.
These shadow figures. Leap-
ing to their feet. The fatherly Baumgarten, with
white Trotsky goatee, stands gaping at me. Behind
him, a strange man
with a shaven head. Bodyguard?
Political refugee? Leaning against the clothes
A little man in tweed with gold-rimmed glasses, wide
archetypal student, seeming ineffectual.
The midnight hours see him with his
lamp and screw-
driver making fuses, dreaming of Napoleons. Two
mysterious parties are sequestered in the deep
shadows. One fumbles with a
jacket off the peg, to
demonstrate the innocence of this tailor-shop meet-
ing; the other shuffles papers. Disturbed anthill.
papa's gone bankrupt! We're not moving!"
face relaxes, smiles, and he offers me
his hand. "Congratulations!"
Off I rush again, back to the yard.
reassures his comrades. "A friend.
Where was I? Ah yes . . . two
steps forward . . .
one step backward...."
at her window, has just invited a young man
into her parlor, when she hears
my happy news.
Standing in front of the courtyard gate, I wave and
and Edna makes a happy face, gesturing back
to me, and the young man looks
"My papa's gone bankrupt! We're not
"Wonderful!" shouts Edna, turns
back to her
dumbfounded client, and leads him indoors.
hurry to the stable to spread the glad tidings, to
tell my beloved Ferdeleh
that we're not going to move.
I hug the horse's head. "He's
too sick to send you
to the glue factory, so you can stop worrying about
Ferdeleh is relieved and very, very happy.