By Author Dr. Barry Nadel
“As I mentioned in my email,” Yoshua said, removing a letter from his jacket pocket, “a colleague of mine found this letter, mentioning a certain Joseph Lopez, connected to the Light of Justice.”
De Luca read the letter and smiled. Yoshua, feeling encouraged, returned the smile.
“Today,” the Italian told him, “the synagogue is an official museum. It’s only open to academics. One needs an appointment to visit. The property belongs to state, but county funds maintain it as a museum. There aren’t enough funds to maintain it. Most of the books in the small library are disintegrating. To prevent further damage, the museum is closed.”
“I’m sorry to hear that such an old library isn’t being preserved,” Yoshua said.
“However,” the Italian said, “A donation could alleviate the scenario.”
Instinctively Yoshua’s hand reached to his back, but his 9 mm wasn’t there. He was in Italy for academic reasons, not counter-terrorism. Yoshua pieced the scenario together. This was southern Italy, where the Mafia wielded more power than the government. De Luca had lured him from Israel to Italy, so he would have no choice but to pay. Confident that I won’t want to fly home empty-handed, De Luca was sure I would pay him a bribe. Yoshua knew there was etiquette to this procedure, but he wasn’t in the mood. He had five hundred euros in his wallet, his entire budget for the trip. Now he would have to dip into his emergency fund. He pulled out his wallet and opened it in front of De Luca.
“Yoshua, where are your manners?”
Yoshua laughed. “Angelo, be a man! You’re robbing me and want me to be polite also?” Yoshua felt stressed, his stomach cramped, and his hands trembled. He knew he had to act swiftly to relieve the familiar symptoms caused by this Italian. Yoshua removed a pen from his shirt pocket and hefted it for a second. “Do you see this pen,” Yoshua said.
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