May 06

Waiting for Broza
by Irene de la Torre
p. 2 of 3

They drove quietly heading north. Eyal stared intently outside as if he was looking for something and it made her remember the ride back to Tel Aviv, on the bus, at night. Eyal had walked to the back of the bus. He’d been talking to a girl they had met at the concert. From her seat Sara could see their silhouettes. It looked like they were kissing. Sara had turned her face to the window trying to make out the dark landscape. There was a full moon. The water of the Dead Sea glittered as if it had been sprinkled with a thousand diamonds, and the dark, biblical mountains towered in the distance, beautiful and luminous. She’d felt alone in the vast and ancient beauty, but it was a sweet loneliness. Sitting there, on the cold vinyl bus seat, she was surrounded by her ancestors, and every glittering star was Abraham and Yitzhak and Jacob. And they were looking down on her and smiling.

Then, after what had seemed like an eternity, she saw Eyal’s figure slowly walking up the isle, like a shadow.

“I saw you,” she whispered. “You were kissing that girl.”

“Her Grandmother just died,” he said. “She needed somebody.”

She’d spent the next three hours wondering why she was still considering going home with him.

Sara felt her hands tighten around the steering wheel. "Let's play my new CD," she said.

"No. I'm tired of Broza," Eyal said. "I'm tired of Israeli music." He squeezed her thigh and chuckled. "Maybe later."

They crossed the Whitestone Bridge, and the Manhattan skyline came into view. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and the sun reflected golden rays on the skyscrapers. She thought about how different and beautiful it was to look at Manhattan from afar, than it was to actually live there, with its subways and noises and dirty streets. She felt lucky to have escaped the streets of the city, saturated by strangers.

“Hey, you know the East Village?” Eyal asked. “I have this friend that lives in Manhattan; he moved out here a couple of months ago from Israel, and when I told him I was coming, he made me promise I would visit.” His eyes sparkled. “You don’t mind, do you?”

“Of course not,” she said. She had imagined them driving up to Connecticut on the Merritt Parkway, taking in the leaves changing red and gold and orange, and then her cooking him a romantic dinner then letting him tear her clothes off, impatient, like he’d done in Israel. But she didn’t say anything. She thought about how the nights were turning cold, and how alone she felt in her queen-sized bed, like it was threatening to swallow her whole.

Sara could see the large green sign to 1-95 and she toyed with the idea of hitting the gas pedal and speeding home. They would need to backtrack, she thought. They may have to pay another toll, and she knew Eyal would not offer any money.

“I have the address.” Eyal turned to his backpack again and opened a zipper on the front.

“Here it is.” Eyal produced a small and scrunched ball of paper. “Do you know this place?” He unfolded it and opened it and she took a quick look at it.

Sara immediately recognized the address. It was way downtown, East Village, where she only rarely ventured during her year in New York. There were cool, no name bars and young, hip people always lining the streets, all dressed better than her, all better looking than her, thinner than her, with better lives.

“Yes,” she said. “I know the area well.”

They drove silently for while, through the long avenues of Manhattan, heading downtown. The streets were fairly empty, with the laziness of a weekend afternoon. Sara felt surprised at how easy and fast she navigated the city. It was almost as if, now that she no longer lived there, she was protected.

“I like this,” Eyal said, once they left midtown. Sara saw the brownstones, the little bars, still closed, the small cobble-stoned side streets, which you stumbled upon by chance. Some people lived happy lives in the city, Sara thought.
“I think it's here,” Eyal said, once they reached a reddish, very old brownstone building on a quiet, residential street. She always wondered what it would be like, to see one of these from the inside.

“Are you coming, or what?”

They climbed five flights that seemed to go on forever. When they got to the top, she was out of breath and the door to his friend’s apartment was already open. A dark- haired, tall guy stood by the door and greeted them with a smile. His eyelids were half closed like he had just been sleeping. She thought the only time she had seen hair that dark was the hair of David Broza.

“Hey, how’s it going?” he asked in a mellow voice. “Come on in.”

The apartment had very little furniture, but small details gave it a personal, warm feeling; the Bedouin woven rug in the living room, two green plants propped against the windowsill, a few tin ashtrays scattered about an old coffee table, and some colorful pillows strewn on top of a brown worn out couch.
“Nice to meet you,” the guy with the dark hair said. He extended his hand to her. He was taller than Eyal, and his hand felt warm and dry in hers.

“Thanks,” she couldn’t think of anything else to say.

She looked up at Eyal and he winked at her. Her back muscles tightened and her neck stiffened.

“I’m Ori,” the handsome guy said. His eyes were blue, and they sparkled when he smiled.

"I'm Sara."

“Okay, who wants coffee?” Ori walked barefoot towards the kitchen.

“We do,” Eyal answered for both of them. “Man, I’m tired,” he said to no one in particular. He took off his flip flops and dove onto the couch next to her. “Baby,” he said and looked into her eyes. “Don’t worry so much, we’re going to have a good time.”

She wondered if he was ever going to kiss her, and she wondered if it would feel the same as it had felt that night in Masada.

Ori walked in carrying a tray with three small glasses on top of it. The smell of bittersweet, Turkish coffee filled the room. It reminded Sara of starry nights by the Dead Sea, with the warm desert breeze caressing her skin.

“Man, where’s the grass you promised?” Eyal asked. “I’ve been on a plane eleven hours. I could use some.”

Sara picked up her glass and took a small sip. The coffee was sweet and spicy.

Ori got up. He went to the kitchen and came back with a small wooden box. Eyal pulled the shades shut and the room glowed in a red, dark, afternoon light. Then he leaned in and kissed her cheek. He smelled salty and sweaty and she wondered how it had not bothered her before in the airport.

Kneeling next to her, Ori opened the wooden box and took out a small Ziploc bag filled with the green stash. She felt a tickle of excitement in her belly. It had been four years since she had smoked pot. The last time she’d smoked had been with Eyal.

“Do you want to do the honors?” Ori asked and Eyal immediately began rolling a joint. He did all this with extreme concentration and with a serious look on his face.

Images: Mindy Stricke