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First Recompense

by Sabra Sanjani

 
  September 2011 Fiction Anthology  |  Contents  |  Authors  |  echapbook.com  |  First Recompense Part II

 

Part I

She stood on the roof of the Yadin Memorial Center. Passers-by saw her first. Others began pulling cars over, getting out, and crossing the lawn to stare up at her. What the hell was she doing up there? How had she gotten up there? Even in Israel, it was not something one saw every day.

A few spectators asked what was going on. Most kept silent, waiting to hear what the girl might say. Maybe, she would just jump.

Why was she wearing only a white thong? Some murmured about a stick in her right hand that glimmered in the sunlight. When she screamed, “Zionism is the lie of Satan,” mouths fell open.

“Herzl and Ben Gurion lied to you!” she cried out. “The State of Israel is a blasphemy, a defamation against true Judaism, against true Jews who have lived in peaceful harmony with Muslims for centuries!”

Four people came from the building beneath.

“The State of Israel must be dismantled! The native citizens of Palestine must be given back their homeland, with our apologies! If we must endure a hundred years of humiliation and punishment for the crimes we have committed, so be it!”

“Ah, she’s a follower of Rabbi Weiss and Cohen,” an older man shouted. “A damned radical.”

A woman nearby said, “Weiss and Cohen are not rabbis. They’re liars. They only make trouble for us.”

“Naturei Karta! They’re the ones from Satan,” a young man with a beard and wearing a kippah interjected.

But in a moment, the girl changed all of their minds.

“Listen to me, Israel! I am the one you must follow! I am the voice in the wilderness, the voice of God! I am she whose coming is from of old, and when I die for you, when I lay down my life for you — then you will listen!”

With the glimmering stick, the girl suddenly slashed both of her wrists and held them out to bleed. A gasp went through the crowd, but no one turned away.

As the wind whipped her hair, blood trickled under her forearms and the girl’s chin fell to her chest, the image of Christ crucified.

“My god,” a woman said. “Somebody stop her.”

The audible reaction increased.

“If you listen to my words,” the girl cried out, lifting her face, “you will know the way to peace, the way to salvation. Give this land back to the Palestinians — it has always been theirs, not ours! True Jews abhor and renounce Zionism! True Jews love peace, not robbery!”

With this, to the horror of everyone, the girl slashed her throat. Blood flowed over her bare tits.

“Stop listening to Labor, to Kadima, to Likud! Listen to me, because today I will die for your sins! Stop building beyond the Green Line, and start dismantling the hives of our fucking infestation!”

Not satisfied that she was bleeding fast enough, the girl sliced again at her throat. She dropped the razor and stepped, face down, arms extended and bleeding, to where the roof ended. Dark-red droplets fell from her nipples as her toes curled over the edge.

When the crowd realized how this might end, a second gasp followed.

Inside the hall, a memorial service had been under way to honor a family recently killed in a plane crash. As the mourners came out they joined those on the lawn, looking up with them in horror.

“My god, it’s Rachel!” a woman gasped.

“Someone help her!”

A man’s deep voice called out.

“Rachel, honey, don’t do this.”

This speaker’s voice was American, and Rachel loved it now just as she had loved it throughout her life. His had always been the voice she hoped to hear when she was in trouble. This time, the voice had come too late; there was nothing the broad shouldered man in the cowboy hat could do to save her ass.

new section

Ten days earlier, two sexy girls were drinking Turkish coffee from an authentic finjan several doors from Steimatzky’s Books on Ben Yehuda Street. They were flirting without shame with two guys wearing IDF fatigues who were across the room. The men were having rugelach.

The pretty redhead kept her voice low, but not so low that the guys couldn’t hear her every word.

“I like it best when he comes in easy, you know, just a soft, exploratory little poke.” She giggled.

Her friend was stirred to protest, cheeks reddening, and bright red lips becoming a smile.

“Oh, gawd, no. He needs to rip into me. I want him to offend every raw nerve and make my thighs burn like fire!”

“Shhh, Abigail!” the first girl scolded. “It’s okay to be racy, but you always go porno.”

The guys smiled at them. At that moment a young man came in from the street carrying his books in a back pack strapped over his shoulder.

“It’s all right to say whatever you want to say openly,” the second girl argued. “It’s the twenty-first fucking century. We’re a free country. My pussy is liberated.”

“You really need it bad. Am I right?” the other girl teased.

She looked past the newcomer as he ordered something at the counter. He was blocking her view of the IDF guys. She knew they were still watching, still interested.

“Well, then, how do you like kissing?” she asked her friend.

“Oh, well, kissing is ninety per cent of fucking,” the other girl said, glancing past the guy at the counter toward the soldiers. “I’ve cum a number of times just from kissing. It’s just like fucking, except with the tongue for the cock.”

She glanced back at the soldiers, both of whom were amazed at her candor. Sniggering between themselves, one of the guys lifted his hand toward the girls.

Just then the young man with the backpack stepped back from the counter and reached into his jacket.

“The Beautiful Land will be clean when all of you are dead — you fucking Jewish whores!”

The explosion blew the fronts of three stores into a street, where tourists and regulars strolled moments earlier. There was nothing left of the girls, the guys in their fatigues who were flirting back, or the young man with the back pack. Pieces small and large were found of the owner of the breakfast nook and several shoppers two stores away. Five pedestrians died instantly. Two were decapitated.

Several minutes after the blast, bits of litter still fluttered onto the street, while blood still gurgled in the throats of the dying. A man dressed completely in black stepped forward and cleaned off a section of sidewalk.

He pulled an aerosol can from his coat and shook it. He then sprayed the initials “N. E. B.” on the pavement in big easy to find letters.

The Jerusalem morning was still radiant. Light breezes blew through leafy trees.

new section

Rachel looked quickly into each of the windows of an old, rusted van before waving the driver through her check point. She took a deep breath then swallowed some bottled water. Three feet away, a blue sedan rolled to a stop.

Hand on her weapon, the twenty-year-old IDF private stepped to the sedan’s window, then happened to glance over the roof of the car. An obviously pregnant Palestinian girl was approaching quickly on foot. She was now no more than thirty meters from their check point.

The girl was waving both hands wildly over her head. She was now close enough for Rachel to see how ragged and homespun her chador was. The girl cried out as she advanced towards the checkpoint, “Ptzatza!” and then, “Yaaaa Allah! Yaaaa Allah — ptzatza!”

The soldier nearest Rachel shouted, “She’s got a bomb! She’s asking God to save her!

Five soldiers now pointed their rifles at the approaching girl, whose chador was whipped by the wind.  She wailed loudly, and Rachel could see that her legs were trembling.  Her knees were close to buckling, and her stomach was swollen.

“Pitzutz! Bomb! Yaaaa Allah — yaaaa!” She hadn’t stopped yelling.

The soldiers circled the pregnant girl as she dropped to her knees and raised her hands high. The nearby civilians began to scatter frantically seeking cover behind the closest structure. Some simply threw themselves face down on the ground as if paralyzed.

The soldiers and the pregnant girl were still shouting at each other, their words all confusion and panic. The girl was warning them away by pointing to her belly and screaming those same words, “Ptzatza! Yaaaa Allah! Pitzutzim!”

Rachel’s heart pounded. One of the soldiers suddenly turned and pointed straight at her, the only female soldier at the checkpoint.

“Private!” he yelled sharply, then motioned her to come.

Rachel pointed to herself as a question, and the soldier shouted, “Yes, here! On the double!”

She pushed between the cars and then ran to the soldiers and the pregnant terrorist. The girl looked to be at least a year or two younger than she was.

“Yes, Sir,” she said to the Rav Samal Rishon, the First Sargeant, who repeated what everyone already knew.

“She says she’s got a bomb.”

“Is she pregnant, or is that the bomb, Sir?” Rachel asked.

The sergeant’s chest patch identified him as Aryeh Nir. He spoke quickly, “Both. She says they didn’t think we’d stop a pregnant girl.”

Another soldier, a Meyshar Mishne, a 2nd lieutenant named Benny Shaul, got her attention.

“Private — “ He stopped to check her name. “Private Dayan, talk to the girl. Calm her down.”

Rachel snapped, “Yes, Sir.”

Making eye contact with the girl, Rachel stepped past her fellow soldiers. A hundred different voices of onlookers and soldiers bled into her ears, and she struggled to block them out.

When she realized that Rachel was coming towards her, the kneeling girl shrieked and waved her hands violently to warn her back. Rachel ignored the warning. She didn’t stop until she was standing directly in front of her. They were close enough to smell the fear in one another’s sweat.

“Yaaaa Allah — help me! I don’t want to die,” the pregnant girl cried in mangled English.

Rachel spoke as calmly as possible, hoping her tone might cover the reality of her pounding heart, dry mouth, and knocking knees.

“What’s your name?”

The girl’s eyes widened, as Rachel reached down with both hands and helped her back to her feet.

“I am Nada Yunis Al-Khatib.” The girl shook as she spoke. Rachel noticed the initials N. E. B. sprayed on the sleeves of the girl’s blue dress.

“Nada, I’m Rachel.” Rachel took care not to break eye contact; if she had any strength, any courage, she wanted the girl to recognize it and take strength from it.

“Nada, we aren’t going to hurt you or the baby — but you must stay calm,” she said.

The girl nodded furiously, then started crying louder and more passionately than before.

“My father and my husband say it is my duty to die for Islam — but I don’t want to die.”

Rachel said, “You’re not going to die.”

“Yes, yes, mashallah, mashallah!” the girl cried.

“And neither is your child,” Rachel repeated emphatically.

“Yes, yaaaa Allah! Yes, jazak-allahu khayran!”

“You’re welcome, Nada. I’m staying right here with you,” she said, and added in a quavering voice, “If your ass gets blown away, then so does mine — we’re in this together.”

The girl closed her eyes tightly and began whispering a prayer. Rachel gripped her hands and felt Nada’s tears when they fell on her chapped knuckles. She wished that she too had a god she could pray to. She had jettisoned many things between childhood and the army. Faith in anything more immediate than herself had been one of them.

break

That evening, as she stood naked under the shower spray, Rachel could hear the TV through the open door. Naomi, a fellow soldier and her best friend, sat on a sofa in the living room watching news about the Palestinian girl who came to the checkpoint with four sticks of C4 taped to her thighs.

Naomi ignored Rachel’s pleas to turn the volume down. She was excited that her roommate was being called a hero all across Israel.

“You’re famous! The whole world saw what you did today!” Naomi called out, as Rachel began rinsing her hair. “Listen!”

The newsman sounded like he was just beyond the shower curtain.

“The explosives were carefully removed from the girl after many tense minutes. While the men worked to complete this dangerous job, a young Israeli soldier, a girl of the same age, calmed the pregnant bomber by holding her hand and stroking her face repeatedly.”

“Please, turn it off,” Rachel asked a second time.

“We’re going out,” Naomi called back. “My treat!”

Naomi couldn’t see that Rachel’s shoulders were trembling under the shower and that she was covering her face with her her hands. The sound of the water masked Rachel’s crying.

Rachel still wasn’t in the living room when Naomi turned from the set and started to shout, “We might have...”

Turning back to the TV, her face stricken with grief, Naomi whispered, “...we might have lost you today.”

new section

The dimly lit rave club was packed. As bodies undulated to the rapid tempo of bass-heavy music, lasers attacked dancers from every direction. Pink, blue, and green butterflies of light pulsed angrily through murky drifting fog. Foam sprayed from elevated cannons while scantily clad girls gyrated on platforms above the dance floor.

Naomi was trapped below by a tight circle of guys, all with bones in their pants, she was sure, all with bad intentions. Her costume left nothing to the imagination. It was little more than thin yellow and black strips from a torn Palestinian flag.

Rachel was one of the topless girls on a platform at the front. Wearing a camel-toe thong, she was soaking wet. Her eyes closed, she shook her body shamelessly, displaying all the good things God had given her. The singer’s sexy voice threatened to blow apart the speakers — I wanna be your bitch tonight, wanna be, wanna be your bitch tonight!

In coming here tonight, her single goal was to drive the events of that day as far from her mind as she could. She visited Dante’s Descent with Naomi at least twice a week. When there, they escaped who they were and what they did for a living. But tonight the routine was overshadowed and quickened by undefined urgency.

Doing XTC stamps with cartoons of Golda Meir and Ben Gurion, Rachel had been ecstatic, cock-a-hoop, since arriving. She intended to get fucked as many times as possible by sunrise. Just before morning, the doors would close and Jerusalem’s underground ravers would scurry away like vampires threatened by sunrise.

In two hours, she had dropped to her knees three times and blindly kissed, licked, and sucked what was offered by men whose faces she didn’t recognize, whose cum she greedily swallowed, and whose stiff members she nearly tore from their trunks in her enthusiasm.

Eminem was rapping Shake That Ass, with Nate Dogg, when Rachel felt herself enveloped by a flash of light so bright she was sure she had been vaporized.

break

She found herself outside, her sweaty, nude body embraced by the cool breeze of night. She was being pulled headlong through darkened, unpaved streets, a mob of twenty oddly dressed and angry men surrounding her. She heard herself gasping.

“What the hell are you doing to me?” she cried out, her voice filled with terror. “Where the fuck are we going?”

They offered no explanation. Twice, when she had fallen on her face in the dirt, they pulled her back to her feet by grabbing a fistful of hair, slapping her ass and then her face, spitting on her.

“You worthless whore!” one shouted.

Another slapped her tits as hard as he could, and before being pulled away by the others took her down with both hands around her throat,choking the life from her.

At the wall, they pushed her away, wiping her stench from their hands. She fell on old uneven stone, her nose bloodied and her ankle twisted.

She turned around, wiped the blood from her face, and then saw him. The others in the mob backed away and turned silent. They were frightened of him. Rachel knew who he was instantly and she knew why his disciples had followed him without question.

He knelt and casually scratched the dirt with his forefinger. Everyone stared at him. They were still gripping the rocks they had surely meant for her skull

Without looking up, and with unnerving calm, the stranger said quietly, “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.”

One by one, the stones fell to the dust at their feet, and one by one her accusers retreated into the shadows. The stranger brushed away whatever he had been writing in the dirt and rose to look at her. She couldn’t bear to have his eyes on her. She felt like a mud covered sow in the wallow. But when he came close she didn’t see the fire of condemnation in his eyes, only a tenderness that broke her heart. Tears mingled with the blood on her face.

He touched her soiled cheek, smiled and quietly said, “My daughter, your sins, which are many, are forgiven. Go and sin no more.”

break

Naomi was shouting at Rachel, as she led her over the parking lot to the van.

“What do you mean what happened? Don’t you remember? Shit! You fell off the goddamned platform, you may have broken that guy’s back when you landed on him. I gotta get you to the ER, because you split your fucking head open — there’s blood all over your face.”

Ten minutes later, Rachel was wheeled into the ER on base, her face still washed in crimson and tears. And, try as she might, Naomi couldn’t keep her friend’s hands down, which she kept raising, as though at a Pentecostal worship service.

“I saw him, Naomi! I saw Jesus! He came to me, he saved me, he washed my sins in his blood — I’m forgiven and set free!”

Naomi bent cheek to cheek, getting blood on her face — “See if there’s any other way you can think of to get us kicked out of the army and be disgraced in Israel!”

new section

The boy walked along the side of the road, puffs of dust kicking up when his heels struck ground. Every third or fourth step, he glanced back over his shoulder. He was near the Al Fawar Junction South of Hebron on Route 60, and he had become separated from his friends who had brought him from Ashdod by car.

He didn’t know how long it would take to reach home and family. His heart raced. He was desperate to see them, to be held, even to be punished, however harshly, for running off to a party with friends.

He knew that by the time the sun slipped from the sky he must be as far away from here as he could be, but there was plenty of light when the car rolled to a stop behind him on the deserted road. He turned, his mouth opening in a smile to greet his long lost friends. He couldn’t imagine how they’d found him; he was just infinitely grateful and that was all that mattered right now. But the six coming out of the car weren’t his friends. He walked briskly, praying under his breath for God to save him and to spare him despite his disobedience.

It was a stolen ax, with a long handle and a blade sharpened for splitting logs. It severed Doron’s head from behind. The blade drove all the way to his chest cavity. His body dropped into a heap. Only then did they jerk the axe away from his corpse.

His body was urinated on, defecated on, and then set afire.

When Doron’s body was discovered six hours later, it lay beside a cement bridge upon which three words had been spray painted in blue — New Exodus Brigade.


Part II >>>

© 2011, Sabra Sanjani

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