Now the thing that really got to me about Morrie last night was what he said about Posie. And I know I thought a bit the same when I told you how Posie just didn’t like people. When we were kids we lived down Black Rock. Near the beach. Up from Half Moon Bay and Posie’s family lived directly opposite. Well not direct. One up. Opposite the Donalsons. Posie’s mum was Posie as well. I asked my mother what sort of name it was and she said they were Jewish. Now where we came from these were the only Jewish people I ever knew. It was years later before I ever really knew what it was all about.
Posie’s family came out in the fifties and the only story I ever heard was that Mr Bloomberg, Posie’s dad, had worked in Israel after they moved there from Europe building a farm and he got shot and I never knew who he was fighting but he was a very hairy man and when they pulled the plaster off his wounds they pulled all the hairs off his chest and he hated the British for that. It was a British hospital.
Now I’ve told Domenic some of this story and that may explain a bit the way he reacted last night, and I’m telling you so you’ll know as well but only on condition no one ever tells Morrie. It’d kill him.
Posie’s mum, Mrs Bloomberg loved me. Frank taught me to play chess, that’s Posie’s Dad. Frank. He had a printing shop in Bentleigh. He taught me chess, he told me about why he hated the British but he told me nothing else. Mrs Bloomberg loved me, like I said. She called me Honishbaum. I don’t know if it’s right but she said it means Honey Tree because I was big and strong for my age and I had a sweet nature. That’s what she said. I guess I changed as I got older.
So Friday nights she’d send little Posie over to get me and I go in and they had this candelabra and they’d light candles and have a small glass of wine and then they’d say a prayer or something. I don’t remember who said the prayer the mother or the father but they always include me and it was nice.
Anyway I was about sixteen at the time and I guess Posie was about twelve. But she was a pain in the neck. If we were out the front playing cricket she’d be there. Asking questions. Wanting to play.
‘Why is that out? What is a wide? What is a no ball? Explain that again. It doesn’t make sense. Can I have a go?’
Then summer holidays were over and we’d be back at school. Morris and I were friends, in the same class. The Bloomberg kids went to some other school. On weekends he would often come down to our place if it was hot and we’d go down the beach swimming off the old jetty. It’s banned now. You can’t go near it. Too dangerous. Then we’d come back to our place and the Bloomberg kids would come over and pester us to play with them and Posie would follow Morris and me around until he had to go home.
This went on for a few years. Now before I go on with the story I hafta tell you something that’s quite a coincidence. My elder sister sent me down an old photo album a month or two ago. Last night when I got in after we had emptied Domenic’s Lebanese Brandy bottle I got out that album and found what I had remembered. There was a photo of me and Morris and the Bloomberg twins and Posie. She would have been sixteen or so. And I can tell you now. She was gorgeous. I don’t think I ever looked at her when we were young. She was a pain, a nuisance and just like my sisters. I didn’t ever actually look at her like that. But she was a real beauty.
And that’s part of why what Morrie said about her was so sad.
It was the last time I went over to the Bloomberg’s for Friday night candles. We had sold the house and were moving. Mrs B wanted to start but Posie was in her room and wouldn’t come out. Mr B, Frank, had to go in and tell her she had to come out. She’d been crying before I’d come over and I had no idea what it was about. After the prayers and all Mr B and I sat down to finish a game we had started during the week. I asked him why Posie was upset and he told me to go and see her mother.
So I went to the kitchen and she was in there with her mother and I said, ‘Mrs B, what’s the matter with Posie? Is it because we are moving?’
‘No Honishbaum. It’s got nothing to do with you moving. Posie, go in to your father for a minute. I want to talk to John.’
That was the only time she ever used my real name.
‘No, John. It is because you are not Jewish.’
‘So why is Posie so upset?’
At this point Posie pushed back into the room. She’d been standing behind the door.
‘Because, you stupid goy. Because I love you.’ And she ran into her room.
That’s all I heard last night. That was what Morrie said. ‘If only once she had said “I love you”. She never said “I love you”. And what else did he say? ‘What kind of a woman was that?’
Oh Morris. You have been my friend for over fifty years. And I heard her say those words once. She said them to me. And I am so sorry. Sorry for you Morrie, and for me. And for Posie.