CARMEN`S PRAYERS

“Yes, my parents are college professors, respected in the community; one can understand it’s a stain on their reputation. If I had stayed there, I surely would have died. But it’s pleased God to save me and bring me here to New York. Thank God, Baruch Hashem!” Jeffry knocked back the glass of vodka in an instant and ate an olive.

Roy also took a drink and grimaced.  He seldom drank vodka, preferring whiskey or brandy. But as Jeffry explained, his favorite drink is vodka, so in order to spend a nice evening with this neighbor, Roy bought a bottle of vodka.

Roy listened to Jeffrey`s “junkie” confession, and at some point Jeffrey’s religious attributes—side locks, beard, yarmulke—suddenly vanished into thin air. Roy saw before him a weak and broken man. Even Jeffrey’s facial expression seemed furtive, like that of a drug addict.

“I am okay now. The Hasidic community of Sea Gate is doing God’s work—they’ve given me a job as a cook at the yeshiva. I’m ashamed to admit that I’m forty years old and I’m not sure how to do anything. But life is gradually improving, Baruch Hashem!” Jeffrey poured himself another drink, and the vodka line dipped below the painted goose on the bottle. “I got married and adopted Moshe. I don’t shoot up anymore. Of course, the Talmud doesn’t come easy to me; my family was never religious, and my father didn’t believe in God at all. I’m almost like a tourist when it comes to Judaism. You know, I sometimes have a split of self. I pray in the synagogue, and out of nowhere it seems like it’s not me praying at all, but my double. I think to myself, ‘Let my twin stay here with the Torah, let him pray and I…I can take off for Kentucky. There is such good dope there, you can’t imagine, man, clean, uncut fucking dope.’”  Jeffrey suddenly fell silent, as if afraid of his own words.

“It might not be easy for you,” Roy said. He was surprised by the openness of his neighbor. Who was Roy to him? Someone he’d just met. But sometimes it’s easier to open up to someone you don’t know well than to a close relative. “When I was studying in medical school, I learned something about drug addiction.”

“Have you studied in medical school? Wo-ow.”

“Yeah, I`ll tell you about it someday, later on.”

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