Shylock is businesswoman. This is about friendship, faith, bullying and anti-semitism
| Esther Tubal, sat outside the Kosher Deli off the Rialto, sipping a strong coffee. The streets were bustling with the sound of people, rushing to work, car horns honked impatiently at the slow moving city traffic. She looked at her watch; the time was 8:30am. She was dressed modestly in a dark pinafore which stretched right down to her ankles and a white blouse that went beyond her wrists. A silver Star of David pendant hung loosely on her chest. Her hair was completely covered and not a strand peered through. The bright sun gleamed down on her. She squinted hard through her glasses. She just about identifies the luxury black Lincoln Town car snail slowly up the traffic. She stands up and waves at the car.
The Town Car comes to a halt outside the Deli. The rear passenger door opens. Gingerly an overweight lady in a two piece black pin stripe suit gets out and buttons up her suit jacket. Esther looked on in shock at her friend Ruth Shylock. Stress had deepened the furrows on her brow and lines like deep crevasses had formed around her cheek lines. Behind her thick glasses were tired distant eyes which had little bags begin to form under them. She looked a good few years older than 54. Ruth’s confident walk was now replaced with an oppressed plod.
Esther wiped her eyes, she hated to see her friend like this. Esther extends her hands, Ruth attempts a half smile and both ladies embrace. ‘Shalom, Ruth, Ma Nishma (how are you)’. Esther pulls out a seat and offers it to her, which she accepts and gingerly sits down.
Ruth removes her glasses and cleans them with a napkin on the table. ‘Esther, I am sleeping little, I’ve gained weight. I’ve tried calling her number, no answer. I get calls from an unknown number, each time I hope it’s her and each time there is no one the other end. I don’t know if it’s her or if it’s someone out to taunt me. I ask each time who are you? is that you Jessica?, but nothing!! Absolutely nothing!!’. She puts the glasses back on, her eyes beginning to water.
Esther wiped her own eyes ‘Oh Vey, my dear friend, why do we have so much tsoris (suffering) in our lives, have we not had enough tsoris to last a lifetime. I say a Broche (prayer) for you and Jessica every day. I hope the police are investigating’.
Ruth wipes her eyes again, and pounds her left hand on the table. ‘They do nothing!!, say she left by her own accord. I said she’s 17, but No!! , still say she left on her own accord. I told them, she could be kidnapped and held against her will, but they have no interest!!. $100,000 dollars and a special anniversary ring Yitzhak gave me, may his memory be a blessing, all gone. I asked them to do a trace on the calls but no!!. You are the only one that will help me, no one else!!’ Oh Esther, my own flesh and blood. The money I don’t care about, but my daughter, my flesh and blood and the ring, the last gift I received from Yitzhak, may his memory be a blessing’.
A waitress passes by the table. Ester orders a pot of coffee for two.
Esther places her left hand on Ruths left arm ‘poor Yitzhak, zikhrono livrakha (blessed memory), this would indeed kill him if he was alive today. Please do not say she has been kidnapped. That boy !! his aunt is a golem (monster), I cannot believe the narrishkeit (foolishness) of the police. If it is ransom, you must speak to the rabbi about Pidyon Shuvuyim (religious duty to pay for the release of a loved one). They will want to extract a lot of gelt (money) from you. I know she is your daughter but our whole community has always been vulnerable to ransom, you must speak to the rabbi, paying over the odds could create a bigger golem.
The waitress placed the pot of coffee on the table and poured out a cup for each. Ruth placed two cubes of brown sugar into hers and stirred before taking a long sip.
‘Esther, I don’t know what they want. There has been no ransom demand, the calls harass me, the police won’t put a trace on them. They say I need to write to the phone provider whom in turn says I need to speak with the police.
I went to her school, they won’t let me speak with the students, said it would need to be the police but of course they won’t do that. I hired a private investigator whom was told I need an order from a judge to speak with the students. So I got my lawyer Portia to write to the school, eventually she got agreement to speak with the parents. The contempt on their faces; when they saw me. Completely dismissed my pleas for information and help. I tried to reason with them but they took delight in their mental torture of me, I was not one of their own afterall’
‘Oy Gevalt Ruth (oh how terrible), how much oppression have we Yehudi (Jews) to endure before we get rachmones (compassion). It’s getting worse too, the amount of times I am called horrible names or get dirty looks is shocking. Perhaps Portia could write to the parents and she may be able to force some Saykhel (Common Sense) from them.’
Ruth lets off a dismissive grunt ‘another whom despises me. She addresses me by Shylock and never my first name. She barges into the office without knocking or appointment. She never greets me with a hello or good bye. Yet I need her services. Her contacts and acumen assist me when dealing with that bully Antonia. Sometimes between the two, I don’t know which takes most pleasure in my sorrows. I suspect Antonia is involved in this and Portia knows more than she is saying. Holding out for a moment to strike when I am at my weakest’
Esther takes a sip of her coffee ‘Ruth, these people are Shmutzik (Dirt), I see a day when we will have no choice but to make Aliyah, I say a broche that when we decide to go that it won’t be too late’.
Ruth topped up both cups with coffee ‘I had the misfortune of crossing paths with Antonia in the rialto last week. She laughed in my face at my misfortune. Shouted Usurer in my face and pushed me out of the way, nearly knocked my glasses off, no one came to my assistance’.
Esther picks up another napkin and wipes her eyes again ‘we both carry life sentences for the faith we are born into. If they could they would exile us into a Shtetl (Jewish ghetto) and extort everything we have from us.
Ruth manages a brief smile ‘You are a true friend Esther, we stick together like our ancestors and they shall never get us to push us out’.
Esther stands up and gives her friend a momentary hug. Both close their eyes and let the tears flow. Esther retakes her seat
‘Ruth, we must always be haimisher mensch (comfortable with each other), Hashem (God) will guide us through this shanda (scandal) with guidance from the Rabbi, we will get Jessica back home’.
‘Thank you Esther, my own flesh and blood, it cuts through me like a dagger. I appreciate your daughter Bina offering last week to try and find something out, you are blessed to have her as a daughter.
‘We may not be blood relatives but you are part of our mishpachah (family), we include you and Jessica in our broches, the thoughts of it makes us ver clempt (choked up). Ester places her left hand on Ruth’s left arm. ‘It pains me to say this without at least ungabluzum (looking like crying). Bina is part of Shalom Yisre’al in school. Jessica has found herself involved in a group that detests everything Yisre’al stands for. Whenever Shalom Yisre’al meet, the group interrupts and harasses members. They try to meet in secret, but are more often followed and forced to abandon. Bina has been harassed and intimidated, but she wants to do her bit for Yisre’al and make Aliyah some day. She says it’s a small sacrifice for Yisre’al and nothing compared to what our ancestors went through. She informs me not all are Shiksas (a gentile girls or women) or shaygets (gentile boys or men)Oy Gevalt’.
Ruth clenched her teeth, a mix of anger and disappointment. She rests her elbows on the table and rests her forehead in the palm of her hands. ‘My flesh and blood, I lost my daughter a lot further back than I thought. Maybe I should of made Aliyah when Yitzhak died, blessed be his memory. I choose business and thought best to keep Jessica here with her friends. Now to discover the friends I kept her here for, she torments. I should have done it then. The one country where we can practise our faith in safety and she wants it destroyed. I don’t know what Yitzhak would think if he was here. To lose his daughter but to lose her from the faith of our ancestors, I feel my heart has been ripped out of me.
Esther moves her chair to beside Ruth placing her right arm behind her back ‘Bina asked the Rabbi, why would our own do this. He told her she was lucky, the youth of today is fertummelt (confused), and ferblunjit (lost), been bupkes(worthless) on their phones. Jessica is Ferblunjit (lost). She lost her father five years ago, blessed be his memory. She was young then, she is still young. She is not lost to Yisre’al. They have taken advantage of her, manipulated her. When she runs of out money she will see then that they are not mishpocha (family). It will only take one of them pishers (bed wetters) to take a dislike to her and then her faith and heritage will become an issue’.
Esther raises Ruths head from her hands and dries her eyes. ‘You are lucky Esther, your children never lost their way. Chayim is great in the business. Best employee ever. I had hoped Jessica would attend Shul more often and get to know Chayim. I dream they would marry. Let them take over the business and I would make Aliyah, far away from Antonia, far away from hate. The lack of interest from Jessica in the business when she works in it part-time hurts me, but not as much as the distain she shows for our own people.’
‘Ruth, I am lucky. Chayim tried to smooz (hang out) with Jessica , he even spoke with the Shadkhen (professional matchmaker) for guidance. We know Jessica is also experiencing tsoris, we must offer broche to Hashem to clear the tummel (disorder) in her mind. The only thing stopping Chayim making Aliyah is you Ruth. He reminisces fondly of Yitzhak and wishes you zie ga zink (good health). Gershom would like to finish his rabbinical studies in Yisre’al. His wife Batya is looking to work at a kindergarden. She could then mind the children there. Machla is just 12. However when Gershom goes to Yisre’al, she will go over for the summer and spend time at a kibbutz.
Of course not forgetting Bina, she always wishes you zie ga zink, she is no shmendrick (weak person). She approached a few from the group that harass Shalom Yisre’al. She was like a nudnik( a pest), demanded to know where Jessica was. They threatened her with a zetz (strong punch) but she persisted, they showed no rachmones and told her she didn’t belong and make Aliyah. The head teacher an alter kaker (old fart) gave Bina a suspension and the others nothing, mamzer (bastard). Some day the two of us will make Aliyah, gay avek (get out of here) and be safe.
Ruth didn’t notice familiar while BMW 7 series, slowly drive by.
‘Please Esther, I don’t want Bina to get in trouble because of me. These people have no problem making life difficult for the likes of us. I will thank her in person, I admire her resilience’.
‘Oh vey Ruth, if it wasn’t for resilience we as a people would never have survived. Please join us for Shabbat on Friday. We will all be there. The Rabbis wife is a cantor. Perhaps both of them will join us and she can lead us in song’, you will not be tsoris (suffering alone).
It was the loud click clack of high heels on the pavement that caught their attention. The 5 foot 8 long haired blonde, in a red power suit strutted confidently with her nose in the air towards them. She pulls out a chair and sits down glaring in disgust at them both.
‘Shylock, when I call you I expect you to answer, I don’t have time to chasing around looking for you. I had to threaten to squeeze the balls off your assistant ; he wasn’t long telling me where you are’.
Ruth looked across at Esther who was stuck with her mouth open, disgusted with the rudeness of this lady. ‘My phone was on silent, can I not have some time with a friend, Esther this is my lawyer Portia. Portia this is my good friend Esther Tubal, mother of Chayim Tubal’.
Esther extends her hand with a greeting ‘Shalom Aleikhem’. Portia looks down at the hand, turns her head with her nose in the air and addresses Ruth. ‘Shylock, Antonia has business for you, luckily for you I have managed to persuade her not to go to your office, she will meet you here’.
Ruth placed her right hand on her stomach, the company of Antonia made her anxious, anxiety began to build up within her. Her hands shook, she took her phone out of an inside suit jacket, she could feel her arms shake as she dialled, ‘Launcelot, bring the car at once, park it up on the pavement, I don’t care if its double parked’.
Ruth turns to Esther and places both her hands on her right knee. ‘Esther, please when Launcelot, comes with the car, get into it, I don’t want you having to deal with this woman. ‘
‘She is a golem Ruth, as soon as this Balabusta (bossy woman) mentioned she was coming , I said a broche. Bina showed chutzpah in the face of our enemies. I will not have this golem kvetch (annoy) you. I will be mensch (a person of character) like you and Bina. We will show this golem we not shmendrick (weak). We must kvell (beam with pride) to be who we are and not be schlemiel (taken advantage of) any more.
It was the laugh of Portia that broke their conversation ‘two frightened hens, that’s what you both are!!’.
The black Lincoln town car pulls up onto the footpath. Ruth grasps both of her hands around Esther’s right hand ‘You don’t acknowledge my friend or respond to her greeting, you treat me with contempt and call us frightened hens. You try being afraid to practise your religion, afraid to wear religious symbols, afraid to walk alone, afraid to be out late at night, afraid of verbal or physical abuse. Add on top of that your daughter runs off with strangers whom despise your homeland, culture and faith. After all that, see how much of a frightened hen you are too’.
A grey Mercedes Maybach pulls up a beside the Lincoln town car, blocking one side of the road. In the front is the driver and a male passenger in a black suit who wore an expressionless face. The male passenger gets out and opens the left passenger door open. A 5 foot 8, female in a grey Italian full length short sleeved formal dress that complemented her athletic build gets out of the car. She pushes back her shoulder length black hair and puts on some designer shades. She looks towards the table and a wide grin spreads across her face, which she maintains.
She pulls back a seat beside Portia, and places her left hand over her right hand right in front of Shylocks face.
‘Portia, from what pound did you pick up these two dogs’. She turns her attention to Esther ‘Tell me are you an usurer too’
Esther rubs her Star of David Penant in her right hand and whispers to herself ‘elohim ya’azor li (God help me), Oy Gevalt do you know of our history? Banned from professions, banned from countries, forced to live like shnorrer (begger) in shetl. The trades we became maven (connoisseur) in are the only trades allowed to us. I am not a usurer. I am a garment trader with my husband Ishmael. When my grandparents blessed is their memory came here from fleeing Europe, they were Nebbish (inadequate person) and shmutzik to goyim (gentiles). All they had were shmatta (rags) to sell. My business acumen I got from them. Job opportunities and education places were denied to them and to us. This is the same for Ruth, finance is all her grandparents and parents knew, blessed is their memory because that is all they were allowed to do and today people go mishegoss (crazy,or bizarre actions or beliefs) at us and won’t rest until we make Aliyah’.
Antonia breaks into laughter ‘ oh vey!! you’re definitely from the tribe, an usurer of a different kind but still an usurer.
Ruth had not heard Esther speak, the anger burned in her eyes, for on Antonia’s ring finger was the ring that Yitzhak gave her.
Antonia, grasps a teen age waitress by her thin arm, , forcing her to squeal. Get me two single shot cappuccino’s, none of your kosher shit, if you don’t have any you’re going to run to that cafe over there and get me two. If your boss has any issues, tell him it’s for Antonia, now go’. She lets go and pushes the girl forward.
Ruth keeps her eyes fixed on the ring. A small grin comes on Antonia’s face, she knows she’s seen it.
‘Why did you treat that girl like that, she has done nothing to you’.
Antonia gives out a laugh ‘persecute the persecuted, it keeps them in check’. The waitress quickly runs past them, to make her way to the other cafe across the road. Antonia roars after her, ‘that’s it keep running and don’t stop’. She turns her head to Ruth whom was still staring at the ring and Esther ‘I’ve got to keep you people running.’
Ruth lifts her stare from the ring onto Antonia’s face grinning face. The waitress leaves the cappuccino’s on the table and runs inside.
Ruth grinded her teeth in anger and smacks her clinched fists on the table. ‘That is my ring, the last gift I received from Yitzhak blessed his memory. His last symbol of love for me and you steal it from me.’
Esther cusps her hands over her mouth, the tears flow from her eyes. She lets out a wail ‘ Oy vey!! Gevalt, Hashem, vus machs da’ (God, what is going on)
‘You’ve taken my ring, I want it back and I want my daughter back, my own flesh and blood!! What have you done to her!! Turned her against her own mother, own people and her own homeland, now hand over the ring and bring her back to me’.
Antonia leans forward clasping her hands together on the table. ‘You see Shylock, this ring doesn’t belong to you anymore, it’s mine, and you’re NOT GETTING IT BACK!!, what is even better, I didn’t have to pay a dime for it.’ She rises up her hand admiring the ring. ‘This really suits me and I must say I’m enjoying the torture it’s causing you’.
Ruth thumps the table again with both fists ‘Don’t get too comfortable with it, I will prove, you and your cronies took my money and ring from me by placing Jessica my flesh and blood under duress. You call us dogs, yet you are the one that behaves like an animal.’
Antonia takes a sip of her Cappuccino ‘Sure!!, go call the police, they aren’t bothered helping you look for Jessica, do you really think they will be bothered with a ring? I don’t think so.
Esther presents her left ring finger to Antonia. On it were two rings ‘This was a gift from my zeyde (grand father) and this my wedding ring. Please take them and give that one back to Ruth. Oy vez mear (oh woe is me), this is like the shoah. Luzzem (leave) Ruth and give some rachmones’.
Antonia squeezes hard on her finger. Esther lets out in pain ‘Golem’.
She lets go of the finger ‘No!!, if I want your rings, I’ll just break your fat finger off. Then I will have your rings and her rings. Don’t worry, when I want them I will find you. ‘
Esther wipes her eyes ‘Golem (monster), how can you shep naches (derive pleasure) from yehudi (Jewish) Tsoris’.
Antonia stands up and jams her right index finger into Esther’s face ‘I don’t know what you’re saying but I am one lady you don’t want to annoy and no one I will punish more, than someone I don’t like’.
Ruth places her left hand on Esther’s right hand ‘Take the ring, my family history is shrouded in having lives, homes and possessions taken but we stuck together survived and prospered. You can have the ring Yitzhaks memory will always be blessed, you can do whatever you want to me but you can never change that, despite how much you try. Jessica is my flesh and blood; you can also never change that. Oh how I weep and how you enjoy my torment but it gives me some satisfaction in knowing that. You can strike me and beat me senseless but she will always be my flesh and blood. A Jewish girl, from the persecuted race you like to keep persecuting. You called us dogs, I pray that no harm comes to her because I will make sure any perpetrators will pay!!’.
Portia sat silently enjoying the humiliation that Ruth and Esther had to injure. She had no intention of sticking up for either or quelling the abuse directed at them. In fact she spent most of the time on her cell phone doing a check on Ishmael Tubal. A wry smile came to her face.
She opens the messaging centre in her phone, types in contact Antonia and writes. ‘Tubels garment trading business is worth a shake down. She then places the phone back inside her suit jacket pocket. ‘Shylock, Antonia has a business proposition for you.
Ruth wipes more tears from her eyes. Esther’s arm around her tense shoulders provides some reassurance that at least she is on her side. ‘A business proposition for me!!, you take part in a plot to steal my ring, money and most importantly my own daughter!!, my only flesh and blood. You march in here, bully us and think that I would do business with you!!’
Antonia leans backwards on her chair, looks upwards in despair and places her hands behind her head ‘Shylock, Shylock, Shylock!!!, you see, you’re daughter is very vulnerable at the moment. All i had to do is fill her tiny brain with lies, that you don’t care, you have disowned her. I can arrange a change of Identity for her and you will never see her again’.
Ruth’s temperature rose with her blood pressure. Her angry glare was only attracting further laughter from Antonio. Smacking the table again with her fists ‘You call this business!!, I call this blackmail. You claim to be a businesswoman, you are nothing more than a Golem, a monster. ‘
Antonia blows her a mocking kiss ‘ Good that you think I am a monster, but I don’t care what you think. You are a usurer, the lowest of the low, along with your friend. I cannot tolerate either of you and nothing would pleasure me more than prevent you from seeing your flesh and blood again. It’s up to you Shylock’.
Esther rubbed the back of Ruths back ‘Bevakasha (please ) Ruth, your heart!!, this nafka (whore) noodge us both, we must show chutzpah’. She calls over the waitress ‘ kos Ma-yim Bevasasha (water please)
Ruth continues ‘You call both of us usurers, simply because you hate us both. You mock and liable my business; which is a regulated financial institution, you’re business is black market based. You too give out loans but I have heard when people don’t pay they get legs broken. When they don’t pay me, I go through courts the legal and fair way. Yet I am the one, whom gets abused on the streets and receives hate mail. Of the two of us, you are the only rogue userer.
The waitress drops 4 glasses on the table and a jug of water and begins to pour. Esther places the glass of water into Ruth’s right hand and she takes several gulps.
Esther worried her friends would take a heart attack, she looked over at Portia whom was completely distracted on her cell phone ‘Bevakasha Antonia, enough hok a chainik (nonsense talk), what is it you want?’
Antonia takes a sip of her coffee and stares momentarily at Esther FIVE HUNDRED THOUSAND DOLLARS!!
Esther cusps her hands over her mouth and takes a deep gasp ‘Oy Gavalt five hundred thousand dollars beehlet (really) Ruth we must speak to the Rabbi, the golem is ransoming Jessica. Oh vey’, ‘Ani hoev otkha! (I feel sick) and begins to cry’.
Antonia throws a used hankerchief at her. Ruth sat fists clenched on her knees, she shaked hard with anger, her teeth clenched as tightly as they could, her eyes zoned fully on Antonia and oblivious to the tears streaming down her cheeks.
Esther wails ‘elohim ya’azor li (God help me), Ruth and Jessica. Elohim ya’azor Yehudi. Ruth, we must discuss pidyon shvuyim with the Rabbi, it may take time to get the Gelt (money) for this Gonif(thief). Oy Gavalt Ruth, we need to make Aliyah this golem will make another Shoah for us, ani hoev otkha!’. She takes another drink of water and removes the used hankerchief with her thumb and index finger which rested on her chest. ‘Antonia, for ransoming Yehudi, pidyon shvuyim only allows us pay a fair price for ransomed Yehudi. Bevakasha, I beg you for rachmones (compassion). We will speak with the Rabbi on the ransom, bevakasha, give us time.
Esther leans over and wipes the tears away from Ruths cheeks. Ruth, she calls us dog but she is vilda chaya (wild animal). Ruth turned her attention to Portia ‘You are my lawyer and the so called business deal is ransom, is this now how people are going to do business with us.
Portia talks out a cigarette from her handbag, lights up and blows smoke into the faces of Ruth and Esther ‘Shylock, most of the people that do business with you love nothing more than fucking you over. Antonia never mentioned it was a ransom, it was her over reacting. The reality is your daughter is a pawn now in a business deal. Neither of you will ever get parity when it comes to business. People will delight on getting one over on you. When you lose, they feel like they have won. ‘
Antonia intercedes ‘look at you too cry, you’re wasting your time, no one cares. All I care about is I get what I want. If I was ransoming Jessica at a very minimum I would require five hundred thousand dollars multiplied by two and you can add an extra zero at the end of it. I get what I want and none of your laws will get in the way of that’.
Ruth removes her glasses momentarily and rubs her eyes ‘I eat and drink like you, I cry because I hurt like you. However none of this matters because my faith is different to you, despite all the good we have done you will always deem us inferior. Let me remind you each time we survived and thrived. So what is this business deal you wish to swindle from me?
‘I have a friend, setting up a new venture shipping sports cars from Italy. I am run a very cash intensive business and a lot of it is tied up in other investments. Shylock you will loan me this money for this venure’.
‘Quite the friend you are!!, my flesh and blood a pawn, how dare you!!. I don’t want part of your venture, I guarantee it will be a bad match. You don’t need me for this venture, it’s a front to an extortion scheme. Take me instead, Jessica can do what she wishes with the business then. It’s my destruction you want, now is your chance. You have extracted my own flesh and blood and most cherished possession from me. You sit on front of us and taunt me with no remorse and you call me a dog. You oppress my people and I, yet we are the ones you come to for help’.
Esther consumed with anxiety, kisses her Star of David penant. ‘Ratzon Hashem (if it’s Gods will) take me too. If not Bevakasha Ruth make Aliyah.’ She turns to Ruth ‘Chayim will teach Jessica the business, this will have him ver clempt (choked up) and show kine-ahora (genuine praises) to you. Antonia, please give us yehudi rachmones. You do not like us and we will make aliyah. Bevakasha, let us use saykhel (common sense). Let us speak to the rabbi, I will speak with Ishmael. Whatever the rabbi recommends, we will make up the gelt with Ruth. ‘
Ruth places her left hand on Esthers right arm ‘I will pay the money Esther, let the community keep their money for when we have to make aliyah to escape the next shoah.’
Esther gives a half smile as her eyes water up again ‘you are part of our mishpocha, we weep for you and Jessica. As yehudi we must share the oppression, there is too much to take it alone. Our enemies will chase us wherever we go. Despite what this golem (pointing at Antonia) and Balabusta (pointing at Portia) think of you, bei mir bist du shayn (to me you’re beautiful).
Ruths lower lip quivers and both embrace in a tight hug.
Antonia quenches her cigarette and throws the butt of it at Esthers face. She removes herself from the hug and places the cigarette butt in an ashtray ‘Zhlub (insensitive person), gai kakhen afenyam (go jump in a lake)
There is no negotiation!!. You will wire this money to me, no cash, this has to appear legitimate. I have a lot of cash business and it will cause too much suspicion and issues if I turn up to a bank with cash. All the attention will go on you usurer. If you want me to get you information on your daughter you will agree, if not, she hates you so much, we will just feed her full of lies.
‘There you go again, you extort me and call me usurer, you insult and harass me endlessly. I want information on Jessica’s whereabouts before I sign any contract or hand over any money’. Her arms shook hard on the table.
‘No negotiation, I don’t run my empire by making exceptions for the likes of you. I am not weak. Remember keep oppressing the oppressed, it keeps them in check. You will never bargain me down’.
Esther, rubs Ruths back, an attempt to ease her tension. ‘Okay, okay, fine. You won’t negotiate, fine. I want my flesh and blood fine. You call me an usurer fine, I can’t change that, the more I ask you not to the more you insult me and chastise me. I can no longer worry about what you or anyone else things, I will always be hated because of my faith. So I will be a usurer. You say this is a business deal, fine it’s a business deal. So as a Usurer, I want 100% interest on the loan, you want this to be done legitimately well then a legitimate contract will be signed. As my name is going against this I will want stock valuation, this is not a drugs shipment. I will not make payment on the Sabbath. This is a lot of money to wire, I will have to make special requests to my private banker. You have me over a barrel, my own flesh and blood.
Antonia takes a sugar cube and flicks it at Shylocks face ‘you are a usurer that likes money. I can guarantee you 150% interest on the loan. I can see the dollar signs glow from your eyes already Shylock, your daughter isn’t so important now, your true colours are shining through now. Your tears of self pity are short lived’.
Ruth raises the palms of her hands upwards to the sides of her. ‘ How convenient it is to stereotype me. Esther and I have wept all morning and shall weep each day until I get to speak with Jessica and bring her back home. Portia, please draft up a contract. ‘ She extends her right index finger at Antonia ‘you will have your money but not before a contract is signed by both of us. You will deliver my daughter and you will repay the loan and interest. You call me usurer, I will act as a usurer’.
Antonia stands up ‘I won’t shake either of your hands. I also will not support a business of your people, so you will pay for our drinks. Portia please do up the contract. It is hoped the ship will sale out in 5 days time, every day delayed will be 5% reduction in your interest. You have no choice; you will take the blame for any delays or issues and will be punished accordingly. This will go into the contract. Failure and you will definitely lose Jessica. ‘ She stands up and walks away from the table. The front seat passenger of her Mercedes gets out and opens the door for her.
Portia is next to stand up ‘I will have the contract to you in the evening Shylock. You better get organising the money. Your sabbath is 3 days away. You will be punished for delays’. She stands up brushes down her suit and walks away.
‘Oy vey Ruth, Ishmeal and I will get some gelt (money) for this gonif (thief). We must speak with the rabbi, to me this is Pidyon Shuvuyim , for ransoming yehudi he is a macher (schemer with many plans). ‘
‘Oy vez mear’ Esther, I thought someday we would be equal, here we are oppressed in the country of our birth, Yitzhak blessed his memory , warned us of the danger signs of a second shoah. I fear we may not make Aliyah.
Esther grabs the young waitresses attention ‘cheshbon, bevakasha’ (bill please). How much longer can yehudi fight the mishegoss (bizarre actions) of our enemies. They are gaining in strength and power. Aliyah is our is our best chance, if we leave it too late we will be gornisht helfn (beyond help).
‘Esther I know, Aliyah is all that can save us from a modern day Haman. It maybe that us all make a mass Aliyah and it will be a second Purim our ancestors will mourn. I will have Launcelot drop me off to the office and then you, where do you want to go.
The waitress places the bill on the table in front of Esther. She opens her brown Italian leather handbag and takes out a matching purse. The bill comes to 13 dollars, she leaves 20. Bevakasha Ruth, I have to go back to the warehouse. We have a shtunk (nasty person) working for us. Expensive clothes are getting stolen. We are tsetummelt (bewildered), they don’t speak english when it suits. Oy Vey, It is tsutcheppenish (irritating).
They walk to the car, Ruth opens the door for Esther ‘Oy yoy you (an exclamation of sorry) would they steal from their own!!.
Both slide in on the luxurious cream leather seats. A glass panel seperates the driver from the passengers creating privacy. Ruth presses a button and the glass lowers ‘ please Launcelot I need to go to the office, you can then drop Esther to the Tubal warehouse at exit six off highway five. Thank you ‘ she lowers the glass again.
Ruth places her right hand on Esthers right knee. ‘Esther my friend, I am very sorry you had to witness that today, I didn’t want you to be dragged into this.’
Esther places her left hand on top of Ruths and gives a smile. ‘you are mensch (a person of noble values or actions) and misphocha (family). We deal with anti-semitism narrishkeit (foolishness) all the time. Some Arab traders won’t do business with us, we then have to use another channel, this brings the cost base up and squeezes us for margins. Others noodge ( to bother, to push) us like we are nebbish (inadequate person). No saykhel (common sense) or rachmones (compassion) for how they do business with us. Schmucks (detestable people) try to undercut us, and over charge us. Oy Gevalt’. These people are Dreck(shit), we must spiel (play a game). We are macher (schemer with many plans) on how we buy and sell trade with them. We need chutzpah in our business acumen.
‘Yes Esther Yitzhak blessed is his memory always said we got our acumen from our ancestors. Each time they robbed us , murdered us and expelled us we learned a lesson and carried those lessons through the generations that now we are more astute, they still hate us and we still are not their equal’.
Esther removes a shimmy from her handbag, takes off her glasses and cleans them. ‘it is farshtinkener (rotten), I am afraid to go out at night, travel alone or go to strange places. Some parts of the distract yehudi fershlugina (beaten up). The police are bissela bupkes ( a little worthless). Barux Hashem (thank God) for Shomrim, Yehudi need them for protection. Without them more of us would meet mesa masheena (horrible death). Chayim smoozes on your business chutzpah. Antonia is not wishing us zie ga zink (good health) with 150% interest. She too is macher. Thinks we are shmendrick (weak). Before signing the contract, you must see evidence the ship is ready. It could be a trick. If you lose 5% every day after 30 days you get no interest, she is a golem. Our gelt (money) is tchotchka (an inexpensive trinket) to her. Do not trust the balabusta she is no friend to us.
‘Esther, I do not want to risk your finances in this. You have your own battles in your business’.
‘Bevakasha Ruth, you and Jessica are mispocha. We must stick together. Our oyvim (enemies) want us fermisht (all shook up) and make us shvitz (sweat) with fear in our lives. Oy-yoy-yoy, what can we do but gay avek (get out of here) and make Aliyah.’
The car came to a stop outside the upmarket 3 story red brick office of R. Shylock Financial, Property and Investment Services Limited.
‘I will go into the office now and begin organising payment. ‘Once I have the contract I will present it to the rabbi, we need to be sure it’s not a trick’.
Ruth gives Esther a hug ‘yes, I will discuss with Ishmeal. We will discuss with the rabbi and set up a meeting. Our lawyer is yehudi and a member of the synagogue. He is maven (expert) on company law. Oy Vey we need anti-semitism like a loch in kop (hole in the head). Hashem yevarech otha ‘God bless you’ Ruth.
‘I have to go now Esther, Hashem yevarech otha .