Jack pressed his hands together. He did that sometimes out of nervousness.
“You all right kid?” Fred asked. “What happened to me was a long time ago. I was a baby and then a little boy. It all worked out. I don’t remember the bad stuff.”
Jack looked out the cab window. “My parents also came from Europe. I was born there---Berlin.”
He turned to Fred. “Yeah, I was 5 or 6 when we came to the U.S. My mother had family in Chicago. They somehow learned she had survived. It took years, but we finally got out.”
Fred gave him a long look. He wagged his index finger at him. “Ever since that night in New York I’ve watched you. I’ve asked around, but other than your statistics, you’ve kept your life hidden. I knew you were born in Berlin and raised in Chicago, but that’s about it. I bet you even changed your last name.”
Jack considered whether to answer, but the cab pulled into the hotel’s driveway. “I’ll give you this Fred. My parents were holocaust survivors. I grew up with the words, ‘be careful’ ringing in my ears. My mother particularly tried to keep me close. ’Don’t do too much, Yankeleh, you’ll hurt yourself.”
Fred shook his head in agreement. “Oh boy isn’t that how all of us grew up.”
“I don’t know. We were the only survivors on the block. My mother’s accent stood out.”
“So you were ashamed?”
Jack reached for the door handle. “Keep digging Fred. Zei gezundt, stay healthy.”
He got out of the cab and went into the hotel.
Jack didn’t notice anything out-of-place in his room. That was a good sign. He went to the bathroom and took off his shirt. There were red bruises on his body where he had been punched and kicked. He got some ice from the small refrigerator and wrapped it in a washcloth. He turned on the TV, sat down, and iced his sores. He must have drifted off. A noise at the door floated into his consciousness. A few seconds passed before he identified the sound. Someone knocked. He turned the TV down.
“Mr. Rakow? I mean Jack. Hello?”
It was a female voice. He went to the door.
He waited a second or so then opened it a crack. A woman with reddish hair and tight jeans looked back at him.
“It’s me. Remember the Brown Derby? Carrie?”
He pulled the door wider. “What? Why are you here?”
She stepped towards him. Your shirt is off and like… wow muscles and a six pack.” She took a breath. “Were you expecting me? She didn’t wait for an answer but wrapped her arms around his torso and kissed him hard.