Story — From the January 2017 issue

A Window To The World

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We younger writers often spoke of the two, probed the reasons they had stopped writing, and repeated all kinds of anecdotes and gossip, especially about Zimmel Hesheles. Was he a eunuch or simply impotent? Did he have secret relations with men? Was he really writing something or merely boasting? And what did he do with the other hours of the day and night? He was never seen at a movie, a theater, a library, or even walking. He always wore the same clothes, which looked clean and somehow as if new. Each time the young writers at the club were left without a topic of discussion, they turned to Zimmel Hesheles. Had he found the key to a perfect existence?

I felt a particular curiosity toward this individual. I constantly set programs of behavior for myself and invariably broke them. I had decided to become a vegetarian, and three days later I slipped up with a sausage. I assumed regimens of morality and spiritual hygiene, determined to devote so many hours each day to writing, reading, sleeping, exercising, and walking, but I never stuck to anything. I tried several times to start a conversation with Zimmel Hesheles, but he answered me curtly, sharply, so that soon there was nothing left to say. At times he would only shake his head or wave a hand. It was as if Zimmel Hesheles had put a lock on himself, and it appeared that he would remain so to the end of his days. Strangely enough, the book of poems he had published had vanished not only from the bookstores but from the Yiddish libraries as well. I had wanted to read it on numerous occasions, but I could not find a single copy anywhere. At that time I had already become interested in psychic research, and it occurred to me that maybe Zimmel Hesheles was what is called a spirit.

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