At eight in the morning I looked at my watch and it was eight o’clock. At nine-thirty I looked at my watch and it was nine-thirty. At eleven in the morning I looked at my watch and it was ten to eleven. At twelve noon I looked at my watch and it was twenty to twelve. At one in the afternoon I looked at my watch and it was twelve-twenty. At four in the afternoon I looked at my watch and it was twelve-twenty. And at quarter past five when I looked at my watch it was still twelve-twenty. The watch tick-tocked along and my heartbeat contracted in time. At ten at night I fell asleep. At two in the morning someone knocked at the door. I pretended I didn’t hear it. The knocking continued. I got up and opened the door. No one was there. I couldn’t get back to sleep because I was afraid. At three in the morning someone knocked at the door once again. I didn’t answer. Even if they’d said “Flowers!” or “Telegram!” or “Neighbor!” I wouldn’t have answered.
I was tired of his tricks.
At four in the morning, when my watch read twelve-twenty, the pounding on the door was so loud that I had to answer, otherwise the neighbors would have woken up. He burst into the room and his face was terribly dark. He said: “I just came from Beersheva. I killed Bonnie.”
I was in shock. I couldn’t believe it would end that way. I couldn’t grasp that Bonnie was dead, and I asked like an idiot: “How is she?”
He came close to me with his dirty face. “Dead-dead. You know what dead means?
I didn’t know but I said “Yes.”
He sat on the bed.
“So what now? Are you planning on hiding out here?” I asked.
“Where do you want me to hide?”
He looked just like a dog.
“You have another idea?”
“No, I don’t,” he said.
I shut up and walked to the left side of the room. I sat on a cardboard box that sank beneath me. I looked at him, and oh, what a sight. Sparse black hair stuck to his head as if he were ill. Skinny as a devil. That’s what he looked like—a devil. He was so ugly that I forgot I was beautiful. Hatred shone in his eyes. I stopped looking at him. I couldn’t believe that once I had dared to kiss him and do all sorts of other things. He got up from the bed, sat on the cane rocking chair that was falling apart, and cursed when it almost collapsed.
I told myself that here, sitting right across from me, was a real murderer, even if he had only murdered Bonnie. He asked me to go out to his car, remove the seat covers and throw them away or bury them somewhere.
“Why?” he growled. “Why? Why because there’s blood on them. That’s why!”
He really looked like a dog.
I went out to the car. The night was cold. I stretched across the seats and began to wrestle with the covers. I got frightened that people were watching me so I started to work faster. I tore off the covers and went back in. He pushed me out.
“What are you doing?” He screamed in a whisper. “I told you to bury them!”
“Where should I bury them?”
“I don’t know. On the beach.”
I ran to the car and drove off in a hurry. On the way, I thought: How did this sicko get me mixed up in Bonnie’s murder? When I got to the beach I ran like a madwoman toward the sea until I just stopped and began digging in panic. I didn’t look right or left. I stuffed the bloody seat covers deep in the sand and ran back toward the car. I was almost there when I remembered to check to make sure there weren’t any scraps of cloth sticking up out of the sand. I was scared to return, but the scrap of cloth drove me crazy. I raced back. It began to rain. I was drenched and cursed him like I’ve never cursed anyone in my life. Not even Bonnie. I ran and ran. The rain smeared the dried blood between my fingers so I wiped them on my pants. When I got back to the place where I had buried the seat covers, I didn’t see anything—not even a scrap of cloth—and I concluded that I had buried them deeply enough. Even so, I swore that I would come back tomorrow in daylight to check and make absolutely certain.
Just as I was ready to get away, I remembered in a panic that I had dirtied my pants with blood. There was no choice. I took them off and buried them deep in the sand. I stood in my underpants in the rain, then ran freezing back to the car. I prayed no one would see me. I parked near my place. It was almost light. I slipped into the room. The ape slept like an angel in my bed. Of course, I woke him up. I told him I had buried both the seat covers and my pants.
He beat his head against the wall. “What did you do, you idiot?!”
“What do you mean? I did what you told me. Did you forget what you said?”
“Where did you bury them?” he growled again.
I told him.
“Tomorrow morning we’ll go there and burn everything. You understand? We have to burn it all. Otherwise it’s useless.”
I lit a cigarette even though I had a terrible headache. He asked me for one and I gave it to him. We smoked. I wanted to ask him how he killed Bonnie. But the words stuck in my throat.
He fell asleep again. I don’t know. Like nothing happened. Like Bonnie wasn’t dead. I woke him and asked how he killed Bonnie. He told me to leave him alone, that he wanted to sleep, that I was nagging him. Look who’s talking! Soon the police will come and haul him off to prison. What does he think, that they’re idiots? That they won’t find him? I told him so.
He said he wasn’t afraid of anything. That the whole police force could march right up his ass. Then he told me that I was an accomplice. That if I thought I wasn’t part of this business then I was mistaken, because all the neighbors in his building in Beersheva knew precisely who I was and what I was, and they’d be more than happy to talk, because they never could stand either him or Bonnie.
“So let’s run,” I said.
He said there’s time, that he hid Bonnie’s body, that it would take a little while before they discovered she was dead, if they ever figured it out.
I asked where he hid her.
He told me her body was in the trunk.
“Are you crazy? In the trunk of the car?”
“Yes,” he said.
“What were you thinking?”
“I brought her with me so I’d have time to think about the best place to hide her. Now let me sleep.”
He dozed off. I went crazy. What now? Bonnie’s out there? I could go outside and see her. I really wanted to see her one last time. To look closely into her pretty face and see it battered or crushed or whatever. I looked at him. He was asleep. I told myself that I would just go out to take a peek and come right back. I’d never seen a corpse, and I was dying to see what one looked like. I dressed warmly because it was goddamned cold outside. Frozen. I put on gloves so as not to leave fingerprints and went out. It was light outside, but everyone was still asleep. I shook with fear, but I’m not the kind of person to take fear to heart. I lifted the trunk and saw what looked like a woolen army blanket. The scratchy kind I hate. I felt around but was afraid to guess what I was touching. I looked up to make sure none of my awful neighbors were spying on me, and I finally lifted up part of the blanket with one quick movement.
I saw her. A complete disappointment. Her face was exactly as it had been in life. Nothing had changed. Not even a crease. Even her hairdo was the same. Her hair was still gathered up like she had just walked out of the hairdresser’s. I couldn’t stand it so I messed up her hair. If she’s dead, she should look like she’s dead. Her face was cold and I laughed to myself that now I could give her a good slap and she couldn’t return it. I even wanted to scratch her cheek, but I couldn’t hang around too long.
I bent down and threw some mud on her. What a sight. I closed the trunk and ran back to the room. The ape was still asleep. I stared at him. He was the ugliest man I ever saw in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of ugly men. But I wanted to celebrate. I wanted to celebrate Bonnie’s death. I lay down beside him and licked his neck. He fell on me and bit me. I felt wonderful.
Later in the morning he woke me up and asked me to make coffee. I was sorry I had let him fuck me before I fell asleep, and I wanted to take a shower.
He said: “There’s no time for a shower. Make some coffee and let’s go.”
I made coffee. The ape asked if there was cake. I said “What else do you want? Next you’ll want a little pie. Or some bourekas, maybe?”
He spat on the floor and swore on his life, on what’s most important, that he would never touch anything I made him.
“So what about the coffee then?” I asked.
“Coffee doesn’t count.”
He swallowed the boiling coffee in two or three gulps and got dressed. He took my green coat and we left the house.
All the way there he went on and on about how he was a murderer.
“Are you sorry you killed Bonnie?”
“Why should I be?”
“So what’re you going on about?” I asked. “The torments of a murderer?”
He was astonished I knew a word like “torments.” “Don’t be surprised,” I said. “I know lots of things…don’t think of me that way.”
We reached the sea. No one was there, not even half a person. So what? Who’s crazy enough to come to the beach in winter? We unloaded Bonnie and he siphoned some gas from the car. We began walking. He carried Bonnie wrapped in her blanket on his back.
“Where?” he asked.
“There.” I said, and pointed to a far-off spot.
We started digging. I thought, why the hell isn’t there some scrap of cloth sticking out of the sand? We dug for a half-hour. An hour.
“Where is it?”
“What do you want from me? It was dark.”
“Make a bonfire,” he said.
“Hand over the gasoline.”
All this time Bonnie lay motionless on the sand. Of course motionless. I poured the gas over her and tossed a lit match. I turned away. It’s awful to watch a human being burn in front of your eyes, even if they’re dead and even if you hate them more than anyone else. The flames leapt higher. Bonnie really burned. He watched her. His eyes shone, and I asked if he missed her. He ran at me like a wolf. I tried to escape.
I screamed as I ran but he caught me and shut my mouth with his big hand. I wanted to vomit. I kicked him with all my might but he didn’t react. He stood there like a telephone pole. I went to see what was going on with Bonnie. She was completely burned up.
He approached me. “There’s no reason to dig anymore,” he said. “Forget it.”
I asked him what we were going to do.
He told me to brush away our footprints.
I told him: “So I’ll get rid of the footprints. But what are you going to do? I’m not going to do everything while you just watch.”
He walked toward the car. I knocked down the sand castles he had built and then stomped on them. I brushed away my footprints with every step I took toward the car. After twenty paces I saw that I hadn’t erased his footsteps, but I said to myself: Don’t be an idiot and go back, just leave it. I walked to the car and figured that the rain would erase it all anyway. When I got to the car I saw him looking in the direction of Bonnie’s remains. I swallowed silently.
On the way back I didn’t know where he was driving. We kept quiet. Finally I couldn’t stand it and I asked what was going to happen now.
He didn’t answer and I got the feeling he hated me.
I said: “I hate you too.” And then: “God will find you, don’t worry.”
He stopped the car in the middle of the road and told me to get out. I told him I didn’t want to. He said it wasn’t a good idea to make him angry. I asked if he was going to kill me. He looked at me and said that it was because of me that he killed Bonnie.
I’ve got my pride. I got out of the car. He drove off. I thought: Go to hell, die, hallelujah and amen. Wreck the car. Blow up. I prayed the police would catch him and tear him to pieces. Hallelujah and amen.
It’s time to love somebody who loves you, I thought. I want to get married already. Enough. I’ve eaten enough crap in my life. Am I missing something? What did Bonnie have that I don’t?
I entered the house ready to cry because there was no one to hold me at night. I found him stretched out on the bed, drinking a beer. Get out, I wanted to tell him, but instead I kicked the empty bottles on the floor. They rolled and knocked against each other. He didn’t throw me a single glance. I wanted to tell him to give me the money and get out. But I suddenly realized he wasn’t moving at all. Even his eyes didn’t move.
“What’s wrong with you? Hey, are you dead?”
He didn’t answer.
I went up and shook him. He didn’t respond. I thought he was playing a game, playing dead. So I laughed. Not a real laugh. A forced laugh. He didn’t move. I tried blowing on him a little and he didn’t bat an eye. He’s dead, I thought. Finito. At least look for the cash, I thought, so you’ll get a little something out of all this. I went over to his bag and opened it. Then I felt someone slam me full force against the wall and a sharp blow landed on my back. I thought I’d broken a rib. I told him so.
He bent over me and I screamed in pain. I screamed that I wanted a doctor. I cried.
“There’s no doctor. Impossible. A doctor means police. Understand?”
The pain was terrible.
“I want a doctor,” I screamed. He shut my mouth with both his hands so the neighbors wouldn’t hear. I shut up anyway. He turned on the radio so he wouldn’t hear me, so he’d forget about me entirely. After fifteen minutes the pain in my ribs went away and I relaxed. He told me I was causing a scene and that I better not dare touch the money. I didn’t understand anything. I went out into the street to walk and understand. I felt he and Bonnie had screwed me and tried to figure out why I felt that way. I hopped on a bus and got off after a couple stops. Then I got on another bus and got off that one too. A woman looked at me and I stuck out my tongue. She had no rights over me.
I came home because the trip didn’t do anything for me. I found a small note in slanted script: I’m coming home at five.
My watch said twelve-twenty, but it was five after five. I waited until four in the morning like a crazy woman, walking back and forth in the room with no one to turn to. I went outside a couple times and looked up and down the street. That was all I could do. At a quarter past four he came in looking terrible. Shut up, I told myself, don’t say anything. He didn’t say anything. He sat on the rocking chair and rocked. It began to rain and that put me in a romantic mood. Tell him already, I said to myself. I told him that I loved him. He looked at me and said: “So what?”
“You’re right. That’s really stupid of me.”
But that’s not what I meant. I let the air out of my lungs and noticed that it didn’t come out right. I felt like I had a stone in my heart. I went to shower, hoping it would help. It didn’t help. I got out of the shower, and his silence began to drive me crazy. I wanted to talk. My expression was a plea for him to say something. I looked at him and made signs.
In the end I said: “I want to talk.”
“I’m not deaf,” he said.
“I’m not deaf,” he said. “Talk.”
The way he said it made me shut up again. I thought of what to say.
“You talk. Don’t you have anything you want to say?”
He didn’t answer.
“There’s a stone in my heart,” I told him.
He was silent. I asked if he was sad. He answered no, and if yes, then only a little, and that it wouldn’t last long. We were silent. We were silent. We were silent. Suddenly he said, “She was really something special. A blonde.”
I’m a blonde too. A little. But I didn’t mention it. I just said: “Yes. She was a blonde. A very special color. Not exactly blonde.”
“Brunette,” he said. “Brunette, with blonde streaks. The streaks were dyed.”
“She didn’t have streaks.” God knows what was going on inside me.
“Don’t tell me whether she had streaks or not. I’m telling you there were streaks,” he growled. “I lived with her, not you. She had streaks.”
“If you say so.”
I got up, went to my closet, and took out clippers and a nail file. I gave myself a manicure. The room was quiet except for the noise of my nail file and him picking at his teeth, which meant that he had eaten out somewhere.
“Would you stop making that noise?” he asked.
I stopped and put everything aside. I didn’t want to annoy him.
“Throw it all out!”
“Throw it all out. It’s trash.” He gathered up things from around the room, including my manicure set, and all my cardboard boxes full of things from a long time before I moved in. He shoved everything into a corner by the door.
“What’re you doing?”
“It’ll bring mice,” he said, pointing at the boxes. He sat down on the bed again and kept on picking at his teeth. I saw that he had quieted down. I lit a cigarette. He lit one too. We smoked. No one said anything. I couldn’t stand it anymore.
I asked if there was a chance he could fall in love with me.
He said he didn’t think so.
“Why? Do you love Bonnie?”
“None of your business,” he said. “If I loved her, would I have killed her?” Then: “If I loved her, I wouldn’t have killed her.” Then: “If I had loved her, I would have killed her, and actually that’s why I killed her.”
He looked so handsome. I thought, we can get out of here. Hide out.
He asked for water. I gave it to him.
I asked him if he wanted to eat.
He said he didn’t have an appetite.
I told him I loved him. He threw the glass at me and hit my hand. It bled. He was surprised by the blood, and got up to kiss me. I wanted to bleed all the time so he’d kiss me. Luckily I kept bleeding and he didn’t stop kissing me. After I stopped bleeding, I still wanted to kiss him, but he pushed me away and asked if I thought Bonnie was beautiful.
I told him that the first time I had seen her up close was when I saw her dead body.
Suddenly he began to cry.
I told him to stop crying.
He didn’t stop. Aiiii. Aiiii, he cried. I knew he was crying because of Bonnie. He ripped his shirt. I couldn’t stand seeing him with his shirt ripped that way. Torn open. I looked at him.
“Tell me, why’d you kill her, huh?”
“What do you mean, why?” he asked me, and jerked back into tears.
“Why, why?” I asked him. Like I didn’t know. “Say why.”
“She was with another man. That’s why!”
I knew it. I knew it.
“So what about me?”
He didn’t answer.
I told him I was pregnant.
He didn’t answer.
I told him that he had ruined my life.
I went to his bag and took out a pistol.
He watched me and laughed. “Let’s see you shoot me.” He laughed again.
I shot him. Dead, he was awfully ugly.
Now I’m here, and everything’s pretty good.
© Orly Castel-Bloom. By arrangement with the Institute for the Translation of Hebrew Literature. Translation © 2011 by Joe Lockard, edited by Adam Rovner. All rights reserved.