“The Wisdom We Already Know” by Gila Green
Mondays Are Murder features brand-new noir fiction modeled after our award-winning Noir Series. Each story is an original one, and each takes place in a distinct location. Our web model for the series has one more restraint: a 750-word limit. Sound like murder? It is. But so are Mondays.
This week, Gila Green tries to contain a situation in Jerusalem.
The Wisdom We Already Know
by Gila Green
City Center, Jerusalem, Israel
The zooming increases in volume with each second. Vroom, vroom.
Miri looks over her shoulder and screams. The motorcycle is aimed at Beni, still in uniform. Miri presses her back to the white stone wall and feels Beni’s body against her own for the first time in two months. He covers her completely and she’s frozen, barely breathing.
The motorcycle blasts over the spot where Beni had stood only seconds before, bashes into and over the curb, tipping onto the narrow Jerusalem sidewalk. The coldness of the stone presses into her back and the night is still; the popular cafes and bars closed more than an hour ago. Miri waits for her heart to return to its regular rhythm before she opens her eyes.
They had been on a quiet evening stroll, a reunion, and Miri had only stepped an arm’s length ahead. Now, Beni aims his rifle at the motorcycle driver’s temple, his face turned to marble.
“Friend! Friend!” begs the driver, in Arabic-accented Hebrew. He’s wearing a white T-shirt and jeans. His hands are open and up beside his ears and he licks his lower lip.
Miri smells gasoline, sweat, terror.
“Friend, it was an accident,” the driver begs, his hands inching higher above his head, which Miri can only see in the shadow of a streetlamp flicking on and off, shooting up her anxiety.
“I’m not your friend,” Beni growls, in a voice Miri doesn’t recognize. “David!” he calls. His eyes remain on the driver’s hands.
The pounding of footsteps on pavement. David and Lila spring out of the night like comic superheroes.
In an instant, David cocks his M16. Now four sets of eyes are trained on the driver.
“Why didn’t you call me earlier?” David asks.
Miri hears the guilt in David’s voice—in his desire to act like an ordinary twenty-year-old hanging out with his girlfriend on a Thursday night, he had strayed too far behind.
“It was an accident,” the driver repeats. His Adam’s apple bobs up and down. There are two rifles pointing at his brain. Miri’s heart pounds.
“You tried to run us over,” Beni insists. “Some accident.”
Beni’s words rumble in Miri’s ears. The driver was clearly speeding in the dark, along a narrow road, not unlike so many roads in downtown Jerusalem; he lost control of the wheel and hit the sidewalk. Or is that her revision? She wills herself not to consider a motorcycle ramming. There have been five car rammings in the city today alone. Or is it three rammings and two stabbings? She peers as closely as she dares at the driver. He doesn’t look as though he went for a ride in the night to see what it would take to make a street bleed. He just looks terrified. Her head feels heavy, as though her thoughts are filtered through wet paper towels.
“Let him go,” Miri pleads.
“Why? He tried to kill us.”
“It was an accident. Please, Beni.”
Beni lowers his M16. Miri’s eyes are still fixed on it. In their apartment she gives the weapon a wide birth—never turning her back to it, but retreating away from it face-forward, like a worshipper at the Wailing Wall.
The biker doesn’t exhale until David steps back. Miri notices the driver’s wrists shaking as he grasps the handles—once, twice, three times and then roar.
The four of them crowd onto the sidewalk, listening to the motorcycle whine grow fainter until they are alone again.
Miri reaches for Beni’s hand, but it’s on his weapon. David remains ready to fire.
Instead of the starry sky and the open air cafes she still sees the Arab driver, his heart beating in his throat, his hand reaching up to touch his forehead, relief passing over him as he felt its wholeness, his remaining hand so slippery he can’t grip the handle, can’t escape.
GILA GREEN’s first novel King of the Class was published in 2013 (NON Publishing, Vancouver). Her short stories have been nominated for seven international awards and published in tens of magazines including Fiction Magazine, Quality Women’s Fiction, Many Mountains Moving, The Dalhousie Review and Jewish Fiction. She has two novels under submission with the Rights Factory Literary Agency in Toronto. Originally Canadian, Gila lives in Israel with her husband and five children. Please visit: www.gilagreenwrites.com
Would you like to submit a story to the Mondays Are Murder series? Here are the guidelines:
—We are not offering payment, and are asking for first digital rights. The rights to the story revert to the author immediately upon publication.
—Your story should be set in a distinct location of any neighborhood in any city, anywhere in the world, but it should be a story that could only be set in the neighborhood you chose.
—Include the neighborhood, city, state, and country next to your byline.
—Your story should be Noir. What is Noir? We’ll know it when we see it.
—Your story should not exceed 750 words.
—Accepted submissions are typically published 6–8 months after their notification date and will be edited for cohesion and to conform to our house style.
—E-mail your submission to [email protected]. Please paste the story into the body of the email, and also attach it as a PDF file.
Posted: Jun 6, 2016
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