The Sea Beach Line

The Sea Beach Line Read Online Free PDF Page A

Book: The Sea Beach Line Read Online Free PDF
Author: Ben Nadler
left to my chest.
    â€œI was afraid you weren’t coming,” I said, still not believing it was really him.
    â€œWhy would you think this? Never doubt me, boychik.” His voice was strong and true. I wouldn’t doubt him.
    â€œCome on, now, fella.” He put his arm around me, and we walked off toward the subway. Still shaken from his greeting, I chafed from the tightness of his arm around my neck, but did not want him to let go. I was proud to be walking down the street in Brooklyn with him. Of course he had come.
    We didn’t talk too much on the train. He asked me how I was doing, how my sister and mother were doing. They were fine, I told him. I was struggling hard to remember that he was my father, the same man who had once lived with us, danced with my mother to the radio in the kitchen, and taken us all to Greenpoint on Sundays to eat cheese dumplings and potato pancakes.
    He wasn’t part of a Middle Eastern fantasy. He was a real man, with strong arms and a little potbelly. He tucked in to the Daily News , and I pulled a schoolbook from my backpack.
    We picked up a pepperoni pizza and a two-liter bottle of Coke on the way to his apartment from the train station. Alojzy placed the pizza on the coffee table, the only table in his one-bedroom apartment, and we ate straight from the box. We washed our pizza downwith mugs of Coke. Alojzy poured arak into his, and the sweet licorice smell filled the room as we ate. Above the couch was a large black poster, bearing the coat of arms–like logo of the rock band Queen. The only other decorations on the wall were a plastic Israeli flag and an old snapshot of the four of us in Central Park, when I was about six and my sister maybe ten. Like the flag, the photo was held on the wall by bits of black electrical tape. When I went into the bathroom to pee, I saw a faded pink bra hanging on the shower curtain rod.
    The apartment felt very small at first. It was not really much smaller than our old two-bedroom in Manhattan, but living on Long Island had already warped my sense of scale. There was hardly any furniture besides the coffee table and couch in the main room, and the bed in his bedroom. The rest of the space was packed full of cardboard boxes and stacks of books. They were mostly large hardcovers, in piles so dense and tall I thought of them as integral structures, not stacks of individual objects. I asked Alojzy if these were all books that he had read.
    â€œNo, no,” he said. “In my life I’ve left behind two entire libraries. I wouldn’t risk another. I read a book and let it go.”
    â€œSo what’s all this?”
    â€œMerchandise. Got to make money, kiddo. You’ll learn that sometime. Hey, take a look at this.” He pulled out an old leather-bound atlas from the middle of a stack and showed me the various places he had lived. I could locate Israel by myself, but wasn’t quite sure where Poland was. It turned out it was tucked in the shadow of the USSR.
    My father had a small TV, which sat on one of the stacks of books, and we watched the TGIF lineup of sitcoms on ABC. I followed the plots, while my father made comments about the teenage actresses.
    â€œYour girlfriend look anything like that?”
    â€œI don’t have a girlfriend.”
    â€œA good-looking guy like you? Not even one girlfriend? I find that very hard to believe. You got your papa’s charm. You must drive the girls crazy.” After a few shows, and a few more araks for my father, he turned off the TV.
    â€œLook, I know I ain’t been around lately, buddy.”
    â€œOkay.” I wished the TV was still on.
    â€œNo, it’s not okay. It’s gonna change. Because I’m your papa. But listen: It’s never been that I don’t love. I’m father, of course I love. It’s just, I’ve had my life. You see, I am the wandering Jew of Europe.” He saw my confusion. “It’s an old story
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