For the short story reader. Updated every Monday.

The Short Form


David Bezmozgis


Since I was conveniently between jobs, it was my responsibility to drive my grandfather to the B’nai Brith building to meet with Zalman, the synagogue’s gabbai. Zalman was a Romanian Jew who spoke Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish, and quite a lot of English. For years he had overseen the day-to-day running of the synagogue. If my grandfather could impress upon him his level of religious commitment, then Zalman would be able to use his influence with the building’s manager. The manager was sypmathetic to the synagogue’s plight and might be willing to manipulate the waiting list in order to bring in the right kind of resident. In other words, a spiritual ringer.

On the way to meet with Zalman my grandfather repeated that it probably wouldn’t do any good. If Zalman could do anything, he would have done it long ago. The trip was a waste of time. Nevertheless, he clutched the letter of recommendation that the rabbi had written for him. I told him not to worry. He replied that when you got to be his age there was no longer much to worry about. Eerything was in God’s hands. Who are we to know His plans? What is getting or not getting an apartment compared to losing a wife? God does what He does for His own reasons. If it was meant for us to get the apartment, then it would happen, if not, then not. What could anyone do? I said he could pra, but he didn’t get the joke.

We read it in Natasha and Other Stories.