The Adventure of Levy Eshkol Alley (Part 2)
I wasted the next morning at the police station. After tripping over a rock near the front, I had a hard time convincing the police that I was working with Israel’s greatest detective, even after I showed them a business card. Even when they talked, the news was depressing. There weren’t a lot of murders or missing people in Giv‘at Shmu’el, let alone any bodies lying in the morgue, and no one who had been reported recently missing had any resemblance to the mysterious Mr. Pinchas Abramowitz. For good measure I checked the wanted posters and found no matches either. My next stop was the library, on the way to which I tripped over another rock and seriously questioned whoever’s responsible for decorating the town. Once there, I did find mention of a painter of that name who died in 1986, but obviously he was not the man in question. The Internet provided nothing of use, so I looked up the phone numbers of every Pinchas Abramowitz in Israel and called them, all to no fruition. For lack of anything better, I confirmed the address for Ms. Bluma Pomares, and then I was off again to trip on another rock.
A rock right outside the police station which only a stupid person would have put there.
Why are there so many rocks like this in Giv‘at Shmu’el?
On a hunch, I returned to the Bar Mitzvah, where I showed around the picture of Mr. Abramowitz to no avail. Few if any remembered him, and none could tell me more than he had been there a few times, always in the company of Ms. Pomares. On thinking about it, that did make sense. Since she was dating the man, staying in a public place such as this, surrounded by so many reputable men and women, that would satisfy any religious requirements against them being alone together. I tried one last time at the bar, where my waitress, an old grandmother who encouraged me to finish my soup, looked suspiciously at the picture.
“Who is this man?” she asked, and I gave her a quick outline, something which she gave a disgusted snort. “I have this boy in my apartment building who resembles this man. Perhaps they are brothers.”
“An Abramowitz?” I asked.
“Who knows his name? But this boy, he is always is trouble, his parents are always yelling at him. If his brother disappeared, this is the one you should look at.”
Shortly I was off down the street, and cutting across a back walkway I soon reached the apartment building. The giant concrete structure might hold dozens of families, all stacked on top of each other. There were buttons near the entrance, labeled with apartment numbers but (sadly) not names. I pressed them all, and soon somebody buzzed me in. The inside felt foreboding, too sparse and sterile, no common areas outside of the dreadful halls and lobby to bring the residents together. A short elevator ride and I reached the proper floor.
A picture which shows my incompetence as a photographer because the apartment building I was trying to capture is pretty badly centered.
My plan had been simple: I would go to the apartment the waitress described, and if Mr. Abramowitz was not there himself, perhaps this brother of his might be. The problems with my plans began to sink in: what if no one was home, or the resident became violent? I was not an expert at krav maga‘ as my brother was, and should a gun be brought into play, the situation would become deeply unfortunate for me.
I came to the correct door number and had to check it twice to be sure. To my surprise I heard yelling behind the door, though who it was or what they were saying were lost to me.. I even tried putting my ear to the door, hoping for a clue, but an old lady came out of a nearby apartment and chased me off with her walker. So much for a clue.
That afternoon I met up with Aaron again at his favored café and related everything I had experienced. “Entirely unsurprising,” he said in between sips. “Everything is exactly as I expected it.”
An extremely bad picture of behind the café which shows absolutely nothing except my dire need to take photography classes.
“What, that there’s no missing person who matches Abramowitz?” I asked.
“When someone expects something to happen to them, which is more likely, a premonition or a plan to disappear?”
“But why should he want to disappear?”
“Perhaps the problem is with her, our client.”
“I can’t imagine such a thing. Ms. Pomares is quite an agreeable woman.”
“I expected that opinion from you, but not everyone shares it. Even if Abramowitz is interested in Ms. Pomares, there may be other factors involved.”
“But what could possibly keep him away?”
“Quite a few possibilities come to mind. But let’s not worry about that. All will be clear this evening.”
“So you’ve solved the case?”
“A minor puzzle, but not without its charms. Come, Larry. We must prepare.”
I expected Ms. Pomares to join us that evening, but Aaron did not think it wise. “A case such as this is bound to be trying,” he said. “I believe certain facts should be brought to light before all is revealed. Fortunately that should not be long.”
It was only a few minutes before there was knock at the door. Two young men stood on our doorstep, skinny, college-age, and fidgety. “Ah, so kind of you to come as invited,” said Aaron. “Larry, allow me to present Mr. Dror Pomares, Ms. Pomares’ brother, and is his best friend, Mr. Rafael Lifshitz.”
“Where exactly where did you bring us?” asked Dror, the one with more gel in his hair. “I thought you said they had a keg!”
“That’s what the guy from the radio told me!” insisted Rafael. “So where’s Nickleback?”
“I’m afraid you’ll have to forgive me for the ruse,” said Aaron. “Aaron Adelman, private detective, and this is my brother Larry. We have been retained to investigate the disappearance of one Pinchas Abramowitz.”
The two of them stiffened up, glancing at each other. “Dror…” Rafael began.
“Shut up, Rafi!” insisted Dror. “Look, Mr.… Mountain Man, there’s obviously been some kind of misunderstanding.”
“Hey, he knows!”
“What did I tell you? He knows nothing!”
“Perhaps you should let me tell you what I’ve surmised, and then you may tell me how much I know,” said Aaron, stepping in front of the door. “Or perhaps I could be the first to tell all this to Ms. Pomares, and we shall see how well she handles this.”
The two bickered a little more but at last assented. “Ms. Pomares’ religiosity has been quite a source of friction in your family,” Aaron suggested. “Some learn to accommodate, while some never manage, even become resentful. Let us suppose then that you are of the latter, and being such, decide to have a little fun at her expense. You know she’s attending matchmaking functions, and as you attended the same university, you easily learn the where and when. Obviously if someone threw himself in the pool, there’d be opportunities to gain some embarrassing information, or perhaps even make a fool of her. You of course could never be there yourself, Mr. Pomares, but if you had a confederate in the dating pool… Mr. Lifshitz, I presume, or is it Mr. Abramowitz?”
Rafael spat out a profane Arabic loanword.
“That’s enough,” said Dror. “You have no proof!”
“On the contrary,” continued Aaron, “the convenient overly long beard, certainly false, and the sunglasses would both serve well to hide one’s identity. Padding within the clothes could easily serve to give the appearance of greater weight. Ms. Pomares may not have recognized him; I presume she avoids your friends, Mr. Pomares. No surprise there. However, Mr. Lifshitz, someone at the Bar Mitzvah identified you, even so far as to point out your apartment; a simple check of the listings confirms the match. Of course, instead of a single meeting, you had to keep seeing her. Perhaps you genuinely liked her. And that presented the problem of what eventually happens when she wants to move to the next phase. Impossible, of course, so you arrange to break it off. I can’t imagine she will be pleased with either of you when learns the truth of the matter. Have either of you anything to say for yourself?”
“He said it would be funny!” cried Rafael, and soon the two were rolling on the floor, trying to kill each other.
We eventually sorted it out. The two miscreants apologized under duress, which was not to Ms. Pomares’ liking. Aaron, of course, quickly became engaged in the next mystery to come along, typical for him, though not always using what services were available. For once, I actually had little problem with this, especially as now Ms. Pomares was open to my attentions.