Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Avenger

The black box was heavy. Moshe fished it out from the boot of the car. He laboriously dragged it towards the water front which was still ten feet away. The icy wind was making the walk difficult. There was no one in sight and the light was fading. One last hard tug and he managed to bring this closer to the edge of water. He looked at the box scornfully and with a glint in his eyes shoved it hard into the water. There was a huge splash as the box struck and silently slithered into the water.

Moshe was fifteen year old when, while playing in the attic discovered an old dusty box which had not been opened for years. He did not know since when the box lay there or what it contained.. He wrenched the box open. There were some old clothes and as he shuffled them, he saw a small packet. It was a card board box. He opened and was amazed to discover a bunch of old letters. The paper had turned yellow with the passage of time. They were written in pencil! He pored over the contents. There were four letters in all written in June 1945. The last of them was dated 22 June 1945. By the time he finished reading, he had tears swelling in his eyes. It contained the graphic account of the atrocities meted out on the Jews in the camp in Auschwitz. All of them were written by his father Igor. The penultimate letter described how his mother was consigned to the gas chamber and after two days it was his turn! The man responsible was Helmut who was a colonel in the Nazi army! He derived sadistic pleasure in seeing the suffering of Jews subjected to the torture. After a while Moshe regained his composure and went to his loving grandmother Tal. He coaxed her to find out details of his parents. All along she had avoided telling him. That day she told him that his parents lived in Kielce in Poland in a Jewish ghetto. In the spring of 1945 they had been taken away by invading Nazi occupation forces at the height of pogrom. Both she and Moshe had managed to escape as they had been away from home when this happened. As the conditions worsened she fleed with Moshe to Palestine in a ship during the exodus. They settled down in the old town of Jaffa near Tel Aviv in a kibbutz. They had been there living ever since.

 Moshe considered him very fortunate to have a loving grandmother like Tal who raised him with great affection in the years following creation of the state of Israel. During one of his visits to the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem he came across the picture of Helmut. He gathered more information about Helmut. He joined the Israeli Defense Forces as a youngster and after a few years was assigned in a cell responsible to investigate war crimes. One day while browsing through the files he came across the details of Helmut who as last known had migrated to the USA and was probably staying in Boston, if still alive.

Moshe took a sabbatical and traveled to the USA. He arrived at the Logan International airport in Boston and took a taxi to Cambridge. He rented an apartment in the area and got himself enrolled for a short course. During the evenings he would gather details from the telephone directory and trade journals regarding Helmut. There were twenty Helmut’s residing in Boston.

After two months he had a lucky break! While returning from Plymouth he looked out of the window of his car parked by the roadside to see a tall, fair man around sixty years of age with receding hairline, haggard looks and carrying a book emerge from the building across the road. Moshe immediately recognized Helmut! Except for the ageing everything matched with the pictures he had seen in all the years.The trail had finally yielded the result!

A week later Moshe called Helmut from a public booth and told him that an old acquaintance wanted to meet him at the Kennedy Centre near Hyannis around 11 AM on 25 Jun 1975. Helmut wanted to know more details but the caller mentioned that for reasons of mutual security he could not tell the details over the public phone. Reluctantly Helmut agreed to see the caller

It was a windy day and thick clouds had covered the sky like a blanket. Moshe drove down from Boston crossing the wooded area and near Plymouth branched off on the road leading to Hyannis. He reached a few minutes before the scheduled time and waited in the reception area. After some time Helmut emerged  wearing a long overcoat. Moshe shook hands and introduced himself as Carl Zwinger. He offered Helmut to join him over a cup of coffee to discuss something important. They both started a small conversation after settling down in the nearby coffee shop. Helmut asked Carl to excuse him as he wanted to go to the wash room. As soon as Helmut left, Moshe wore gloves and followed him behind .He quietly entered the wash room and locked the door from inside. He pulled out the nylon rope from his pocket and waited for Helmut to come out. As Helmut came out of the wash room. Moshe covered his mouth  and put the noose around Helmut’s neck and pulled the cord hard. Though Helmut was old, he tried to struggle but the nylon rope cut off the passage of air while he kicked his legs vigorously. The body slowly became limp. Moshe pushed back the body in the wash room and adjusted his clothes and locked the wash room from outside. He quietly walked out towards his car and except an old woman no one saw him return to his car.

As the weather had turned worse there were hardly any visitors during the rest of the day at the Centre. Around 4PM he changed into the clothes of the janitor who used to come for cleaning and entered the washroom with a big garbage bag. He pushed the limp body inside the garbage bag and swung it into the trolley and walked out. He waved the security card, which he had lifted earlier in the week from the reception office. After reaching the car he opened the boot and pushed the garbage bag inside and closed it quietly. He pushed off the trolley near the parking area and drove towards Cape Cod.

After driving some distance he changed his clothes and opened the black box and carefully stacked the black bag inside the car and reached the jetty.

Thirty years had passed and Moshe had avenged the wrong doing of the man who lay inside the coffin of the steel box on the bed of sea at Cape Cod


  1. What a story!!! I loved the narration. I hope I have told you that one I read your posts, there is a seamless flow of thought which forces me to go on and on...If you don't mind, can I share it on Fb???

  2. i love d way d words create a picture in my head...

  3. @ Saru..Thanks for liking the story. Please feel free to share with anyone who you think may like to read it.

    @ Raconteur- Thanks Vaidehi for enjoying the story.