Updated: Sep 29, 2019
Myron Blass looked at himself in the mirror. The shadows under his eyes seemed to be getting darker. He ran warm water over his razor to wash off the stubble and finished shaving with a few upward strokes along his neck. The only remaining hairs were his salt and pepper eyebrows and some stubborn ones growing out of his nostrils like damn upside-down potted plants. Being completely bald made his grooming choices simpler, but he lamented that lately he was looking older than his forty-five years.
Myron grabbed a suit bag from his closet and with both hands placed it gently across his bed. He unzipped the fabric bag with the logo of Bergdorf Goodman emblazoned in gold letters on it, and carefully removed the garments. Putting on a new custom tailored suit for the first time from the Men’s Store at Bergdorf’s was a moment that affirmed in his mind that he was a man to be reckoned with.
Downstairs in the foyer, he took one last look in the mirror, and tugged up on the knot of his gold and navy striped tie. A peek through the sidelight window by the front door showed that his driver, Benjamin, was waiting for him. He ran the tips of his fingers down the lapel of his jacket and watched the nap of the suede shift into a lighter shade of brown. Then he ran it back up again and restored it to its original deep luster.
Myron stepped through the elaborate carved wooden front door adorned with polished brass hardware and out onto the curb. He took a look up and down the impeccably landscaped and well-appointed street and smiled and tipped his fedora to Benjamin, who stood by his perfectly detailed, black 1960 Cadillac Coup de Ville.
“Where to, sir?” Benjamin asked, offering a charming smile and holding the rear car door open.
“Morning Benjamin, let’s go see Pops,” he said.
Myron stared out the window as Benjamin drove across the causeway to City Island. He loved the countryside approach. The elevated bridge to the island provided a majestic view of the fishing boats anchored in the harbor. His father had lived here for the past twenty years since his mother passed. Myron wanted his father to move in with him, but he refused.
“What am I going to do? Watch TV all day?”
“Come on, Pops, it would be nice having you around.”
“Nonsense. If you want to see me, you get in that fancy car and drive over.”
The car pulled up to the weather beaten, waterfront home on Horton Street. Myron stepped out of his car and cursed at the damp mist drifting over from the saltwater bay, laying a moist coating upon his suede jacket.
As usual, the front door was unlocked. Myron entered and shouted, “Pops, where are you?”
There was no answer, which was also not surprising. He’s probably out back, Myron thought. He walked through the kitchen and out the back door, and there was Solomon Blass, sitting in an old lawn chair on a narrow and awkwardly tilted boat dock, with a fishing rod in his hand.
The moment Myron took a step on the dock, Solomon rose, put down the rod and said, “Let’s take a walk.”
“Okay, Pops, whatever you say.”
Solomon grabbed his cane hanging off the back of his chair.
“How you doin’?” Myron said.
“Myron, I need to talk to you about a dream I had.”
“A dream? Sure, tell me about it,” Myron said as he followed Solomon along the rocky shoreline of City Island Harbor.
Solomon lifted his index finger into the sky and said, “I dreamt I was back in Warsaw with the Tsvi Midal. Leo was with me and we were working a shtetl in Galicia. We had a few girls in the wagon ready for the ride back to Warsaw when I saw the tzaddik. He looked right at me with these sparkling blue eyes. I couldn’t draw my gaze away. He was young, no more than a teenager.” Solomon stopped and turned to his son, grabbed his shoulders and pulled him in tight. “He looked at me and said, as clear as if he was standing in your shoes right now, ‘I have returned’.”
There was a moment of silence before Myron asked, “Who has returned, Pops?”
“I just told you, the tzaddik.”
“A tzaddik? What’s a tzaddik?” Myron said shaking his head.
Solomon clutched his cane and pointed it at his son and said, “It is said that the tzaddikim are the hands of Hashem, gifted with the ability of providing a bridge into the Creator’s world. There are only thirty-six tzaddikim that live upon the earth at any one time.”
Myron shook his head. “And what does this have to do with us?”
Solomon’s eyes opened wide and he whispered, “The final battle is upon us. My time in this body is coming to an end, but your survival will depend on destroying the tzaddik.”
They walked back to the house in silence and ended up in the kitchen. Solomon sat down, and said, “The tzaddik will seek to destroy me and everything we built. He must be stopped.”
Myron turned his palms upward, shrugged and said, “Okay, Pops, what do you want me to do?”
“Bring me the rabbi. He’ll know.”
“Sure, Pops, right away.”