The Four Letter Word

'Reading Tea Leaves,' Harry Herman Rosel, 1906 (public domain) Wikimedia Commons

As the presidential election approaches and I try to read the tea leaves, one word punches me in the gut.

A repetitive hard punch hitting me in the solar plexus until I double over in pain.

On the floor, I howl the four letter word.

I scream it over and over again, as if I live in Berlin in the mid 1930’s.

As my family whispers his name, whispers about fleeing, whispers about hiding places in the attic as if our apartment is bugged.

Whispers as if they hear the Gestapo knocking on the door.

How do we get out?

Do we have enough money?

Who do we know to bribe?

Where are the addresses of our foreign relatives?

“Speak softly so the children will not hear.”

Hide the newspapers from their eyes, so they will not see the large font headlines yelling: What’s going to happen to us?

Lower the radio as vitriol spews from the mouths of racist leaders..

Fear massacres at the doors of your temple.

Fear shopping in Jewish-owned stores.

Fear sending you children to school.

Fear walking by the park.

Look out your window on to the cobblestone streets and see the faces of hatred marching, holding torches, and screaming words of blood and death and fear.

“Your blood, your death and your fear.”

How can I blame them for not:

Planting a yard sign;

“They’ll tear it down and break my windows.”

Sticking on a bumper sticker;

“They’ll rip it off and damage my car.”

Sharing or liking or commenting on a post let alone joining a Facebook group.

“They are capturing every post you send and eventually they’ll arrest you.”

They have seen the past.

They hide in the present.

And they fear the future.

Vote. Vote. Vote.

About the Author
Florida's Jewish short-story writer, speaker, film producer and retired attorney. He has authored, "A Hebraic Obsession", "The Hanukkah Bunny" and "The Greatest Gift." He produced an award-winning short film entitled, "The Stairs". Movie can be viewed on my TOI blog. Mort is a correspondent for the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel Jewish Journal.
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