Tries to Express
The Same Sea, Amos Oz's newest novel, is written in a series of vignettes and monologues. The one below comes from Dubi Dumbrov who has just tracked down the lovely Dita Inbar at her job (she works as the all-night clerk in a hotel in Tel Aviv). Dubi refers to her boyfriend Rico David who's off in Sri Lanka with a Portuguese lady by the name of Maria. Giggy is her lover while Rico is gone. Dubi is a scam artist --- presumably raising money to produce Dita's movie, Nirit's Love.Twenty to three in the morning. This is the time, not six, that ought to be at the bottom of a clock: the lowest time, when you can see what's going to happen. Dubi Dombrov calls Dita Inbar who is napping over the City News behind the hotel reception desk, her cheek resting on her hand; by her side, in a plastic cup, some lemonade is losing the last of its fizz. Sorry, he says, I just thought you might be free now to chat a bit. I suddenly had this idea that if you could manage to touch your old man, say, or some other old man, for nine thousand dollars or so, it would put me in the clear, as they say. We could spread our wings and make one hell of a film. With money like that I'd even give you a fifty-fifty share of Dombrov Productions Ltd. We'll repay the money within a year. We won't just repay it, we'll double it. Two people who count, top people at Channel 2, have read the revised script and definitely see potential in it. The problem is that I'm a bit in the red. I've sold the Fiat (with nine parking tickets and only two days left on the insurance) but don't worry, I'll clear out of your flat in Mazeh Street the moment I get the money Giggy promised. Besides which I've got eczema, besides which I missed two months of my alimony and today I got a sequestration order in the mail plus a call-up for the reserves, twelve days in Kastina, besides which I haven't moved my bowels for three days. Excuse the details. If the old man won't chip in nine thousand maybe he could make it two, or even a grand? I've got a painting by Tumarkin that must be worth twice that, I'll make it a gift to you. Anyway, I've been wanting to give you something personal, something beautiful for some time. It's a rather repulsive picture, actually, but it's all I've got, Dita. Nobody can give what he hasn't got. I'm not asking anything from you Dita, only that you should try to see me in a slightly different light sometimes. If you can. As for the money, get as much as you can, the old man is wild about you, and you'll see that our film will take off after all. Even a couple of grand would do for starters, after that you'll be amazed how this venture of ours will run all by itself. Believe me, I wouldn't for the life of me ask you for a penny if I had any choice. Tell me, Dita says, have you any idea what time it is? And tell me, Dita says, where are you living, anyway. To which Dubi Dombrov replies, with his bad breath hitting her across the switchboard and the wire, You want the truth? We're living in a flash. All of us. In a flash --- it describes time and in a way it also describes space too. Honest, I wish I could put my body into storage, or mortgage it. I don't care if I don't get a cent for it. I'd even pay. All my troubles come from this lump of flesh that's clung to me since I was a child and doesn't let me rise above it. Nothing good ever came from it. It guzzles fuel like crazy and all it ever does is make me blush or squirm. This body of mine is forever flat on its face. If only I could get around town without it everything would be so easy. I'd stage a project the likes of which this city has never seen before. I'd be free from sleeping and breathing and smoking, no belly, no reserve duty, no debts, no fear of AIDS, I wouldn't give a shit. For all I care the Scuds can come again and take it off my back. Or I'll sell it to an organ bank or even donate it to a forensic lab or a transplant center, and then I'd go off to the beach as free as the air. And take it easy. Or I'd go further, Tibet, Goa, I could take your boyfriend's place and send him back to you, even though really I don't believe all this shit, that he's hanging out there with some Portuguese chick, his own private fado singer, some kind of sexy hot-gospeller, that whole business is just a load of bullshit, he's probably blowing his mind in some hole in India and the whole Maria thing is all in the Narrator's head, and he's the one you should really talk to, if you just fluttered your eyelashes at him and got him to make a couple of phone calls to the right people, he must know them all, then our film would be halfway to being made. Even that Giggy of yours is just a load of bullshit when it comes to it, and so am I, even more so. The real reason I called you at 3 a.m. is that I thought it was the only way I'd finally have the guts to express my feelings, and look what came out instead: a lump of shit. What time do you finish your shift? I'll wait for you outside the hotel, OK? Or perhaps I won't. What's the use.--- From The Same Sea
©2001 Harcourt, Inc.