The glare from the oncoming headlights was insane; it bored into Rameul’s eyes like a laser causing him to lower his gaze. Not a bad thing, unless you are doing 80 miles an hour in driving rain on an unfamiliar back road being pursued by your ex wife’s very hostile lover.
And to make matters worse as Rameul looked back up the road had disappeared and was now replaced by nothingness. Oh sure there were things out there but Rameul’s terror-stricken brain could not comprehend them all, just the one thought flashing over and over “I’m going to die, I’m going to die”
So how do I get to be telling you this story and what is my part in it, well I guess I should probably start at the beginning.
Located at the foothills of the Carpathian Mountains, lies one of the most legendary synagogues in Romania, the Wooden Synagogue. Thousands of Jews settled here in the 17th century, fleeting Poland following the Chmielnicki Uprising.
Before World War II, the local community numbered close to 8,000, though most left for Israel at the onset of war. And it is here our story starts.
Rameul’s father had been the owner of a small bread shop, a man of great standing in the local community, but a right barstard to his family. He regularly beat his wife and children and Rameul had learnt from bitter experience that silence was sometimes your best defense. It was this experience that was later to haunt Rameul but I am getting ahead of myself.
During the war Rameuls father had decided that the family’s fortune lay in distant lands, Israel in fact. But it wasn’t actually his family’s welfare that Rameul’s father had in mind because Rameul’s father had a secret that he shared with no one and it was about to get him killed.
You see Rameul’s father had not been totally faithful to either his wife or family for on one of his trips to Cluj Napoca he had met a young woman named Elaurs and over subsequent visits had fallen in love with her. On his last trip he had found her with child, his child, and she wasn’t alone.
Rameul’s father had never given it a thought really; that Elaurs had a father or for that matter any brothers but he knew now and the proposal they put to him was, in a word terrifying. Marry Elaurs or die, not such a hard choice to make really, and so he gave them all his savings and donkey as a part payment with the promise to return within the month for the betrothal.
Easy eh, ah yes but not quite so, as the brothers were not stupid and realised he may never come back, so it was agreed that two of them would accompany him until his return.
Rameul’s father crashed through the door the blood streaming down his face and the knife wounds were all real, “bandits” he said “in the mountains”. The villagers were quick to act and Elaurs brothers were easily caught. They had also sustained multiple stab wounds which was unsurprising as they had been asleep when Rameul’s father had attacked them.
The trial was swift and a forgone conclusion, after all when you find a man’s ring on the finger of another man there is all the proof you need. Oh the brothers had told the judge that it had been part of a wedding dowry for their sister but the judge knew Rameul’s father well and he was already married so that story wouldn’t hold up.
How they died, I will not trouble you with the details suffice torture of the most extreme was used to extract a confession to restore the honour of Rameul’s father. The brothers refused to change their story and died in that rancid jail cell their pleadings falling on the deaf ears of their accusers, Rameuls father was free but only till the news got back to Cluj Napoca.
Palestine (5th Aliyah)
Rameul had never known heat like it, it caused him to gasp just to get any breath at all. Why had his father brought them here to this hell, and right at that moment he knew he had to escape, but how. In Romainia he had contacts friends spoke the langauge but here, well here was a different matter.
The word Mossad is a word used in whisperes, to say it out loud could get you killed by friend or foe alike, for the line between the two is fine and blurred. But Rameul was making a name for himself and news travels fast in certain circles. Rameul had found his trade and he was fast to anger and merciless in his dealings. It had started as just a little name calling, you know the type, the new kid on the block sort of thing, just kids.
But Rameul’s response wasn’t that of a child, all that pain, all that anger all those beatings, Rameul was a bomb waiting to go off and the fuse was lit. His first response was with fists, the second with a knife and it was with the knife that Rameul’s reputation began. Rameul liked the knife he had seen what it had done to his father, seen how it had changed a violent bully to a shell of a man, he liked how silent it was and the mess you could make of another person; now that is how to make a statement.
Rameul had arrived home one day to see a man standing with his father, his first thought was the police but this man wasn’t in a uniform and he was smiling his hand out streached. Rameul took the hand and found it belonged to a man who had certain contacts and interests who were looking for some people with very special talents, and Rameul had indeed those talents, but first there was a test, just a wee test.
Those of you familiar with psychometric assesments will need no introductions, for those of you who don’t, it is not only what you say but sometimes what you don’t say that matters, and it took very little scratching for the red raw wound that was Rameuls emotion to elicit a response that left no doubt to the group gathered.
Killing is one thing, but it needs to be tempered with forsight, control, detachment and 16 other things that the assembled group required in order to pass, Rameul failed all 19 traits the word lose cannon was bandied about, but even lose cannons can be useful, useful but never employed. Rameul went back to what he liked doing best but now he had some powerful friends and a reputation that grows with those contacts. Rameul was on the up.
It was the death of his father that first raised the conversation. His mother had often asked him about girlfriends but Rameul didn’t fit in here and his reputation for violence preceeded him so girls were not on his agenda.
Oh sure he had slept with women but for a favour or to settle a debt not for love, Rameul new nothing about love, but a small dream kept repeating till at last Rameul knew what he must do.
Rameul looked at the photo printed off the internet website “Romanian Brides” and smiled the girl was pretty alright she had reminded him of his mother when she was young and that was enough for him. He couldn’t remember her name as he wasn’t that interested, Rameul knew the moment he saw her she was the women for him, her name was Daciana.
The honeymoon was magic and for the first time in Rameul’s life a peace drifted over it.
And there it might have stayed but for a few minor events that would have otherwise not mattered had they been viewed individually rather than as a group. Daciana was the doting wife and would do anything for Rameul; she always put him first and pandered to his wishes and wants, and Rameul had some strange wants.
Rameul had never seen heard of or eaten instant noodles in Romania but in Israel they were everywhere and Rameul loved them. Now when I say loved I mean loved, he had been known to eat ten packets in one sitting but he had found out through bitter experience that to eat more than four packets would lead to an outbreak of hives. And when you are a killer hives is an unnecessary distraction.
At first Daciana had happily served meals of instant noodles, as it made Rameul so happy and took no time to prepare but it was on the visit of her brother that the trouble started. It was tradition that she produced a meal to welcome him, and in the traditional way of the village first on the menu was tripe and calf foot soup. Rameul exploded “ we live here now and we eat like civilized people, not peasents from the old country”
It was only a backhand but delivered with souch power it knocked Daciana totally off her feet. Rameul knew the moment his hand struck that he had become his father.
Daciana was the perfect host but no amount of makeup could hide the bruising let alone the swelling, life had changed and Daciana’s brother bottled up his rage at the thought of his sisters husbands abuse, the die was cast.
Daciana stayed with Rameul but the man she had married had turned into a monster. Rameul was as cruel as his father and had carved into her back his favourite saying “Sounds like performance punishment to me”. Performance punishment was what his father had said as a reason to beat him as a child and a lesson like that you don’t forget.
Performance punishment was Rameul’s code for dishing out extreme violence and he punished his wife for her performance on everything.
But Daciana’s brother had not left her totally alone, while he had been visiting her he chanced upon a school chum whose parents had emigrated while they were still at school. Tomar had looked Daciana’s brother up on Facebook and invited him to catch up while he visited his sister, a chance encounter indeed.
Daciana had met Tomar on more than one occasion and a romance had started but her fear of Rameul meant she was terrified to leave, quite rightly she knew he would kill her.
But Tomar was not easily put off and over several months he managed to win her trust, nothing would ever happen to her, of that he promised.
Rameul took the phone call he knew the number well, a simple job just dishing out some extreme violence to make a point, he would have done it for nothing but to get paid as well, that was why he loved his work. He knew his father would be proud, he had learnt well.
Rameul stepped out of his car to meet his contact and Tomar stepped out of the shadows to greet him. Tomar’s hand held a plain brown envelope just like the dozens he had seen before, Rameul reached out to take it.
The hood took him totally by surprise and in that split second between the trained and the amateur Rameul’s fate was sealed. The beating was slow and methodical and between each blow, each cut one of the men would ask the other, “what does this sound like” and the other would laugh and reply “It sounds like performance punishment to me”
Rameul heard the door open around midnight and he recognized through his pain the voice of the man with the envelope then the door closed and there was silence.
They hadn’t tied him, there had been no need these men knew what they were doing and Rameul knew when they got back he was dead. How he got to the car well adrenalin can do that, the keys were still in the ignition, “amateurs” Rameul would have smiled if he had teeth. The car started and he was gone.
Tomar smiled so simple, much harder to get rid of a body, when people disappear questions are asked, but a car accident, so simple.
Rameul looked back up, the road had disappeared and was now replaced by nothingness. Oh sure there were things out there but Rameul’s terror-stricken brain could not comprehend them all, just the one thought flashing over and over “I’m going to die, I’m going to die”
And who am I and how did I get to be involved, well you would have to go back to a time when a young woman had a child to a man who killed her brothers.