Morning so soon! Eyes shut, I pushed the snooze button again on my alarm clock and pulled the blanket tighter to cover my still tired body against the chilled air. Ready to plunge back into the blessed unconsciousness of sleep, I felt something off in my daily waking routine, I knew right then I wouldn't be able to fall asleep. A new sensation, the beginning of a feeling, found itself in the back of my mind preventing it from shutting off for an additional nine minutes of rest. Kicking off the covers, I probed the feeling this way and that, but unable to get rid of it, I headed for the shower, my favorite place to think. Some people sing in the shower, others hum, and I talk as in a word association game. I usually start with the word water or soap or shampoo and within several minutes produce hundreds of words until one strikes me as the end, then I try to traverse the chain back to the origin. This time my game stopped at the word ring, after which I came up dry and remembered. I remembered I had a dream, which came unwoven in my inner eye like an epic motion picture spanning decades and continents. Unprepared for this newly found treasure, I barely dried myself and raced to the laptop in the dining room. Up there in the still accessible labyrinth of my brain a book lay open, with the beginning, middle and the end. All I had to do was to write it all down before the dream evaporated and I forgot.
Without stopping to even make coffee I spent the better part of the day typing a synopsis, notes, chapter contents, as well as bio details. At two, when I thought I poured every last possible tidbit of information into a new sizable folder I titled “The Rabbi,” I dialed my agent.
- Guess what? I'm not blocked anymore. - I said measuring five scoops of French roast into the coffee filter. - I have a book in me yet.
A book? Really? - Mike sounded surprised. - Fiction, I hope?
- What else. I have it all laid out already. - I poured five cups of water in the narrow receptacle without spilling a drop, a good sign. - How about dinner tonight?
- It better be good. - Mike pronounced slowly separating words as if to drill into my head that he will not put up with my writer's block any longer. - Carmine's at eight.
I was early. Two whole hours early. Waiting for eight o'clock I browsed the book shop next door, making mental notes to myself and then jotting down the titles of history and geography books. (Why? For research?) Exactly at eight I walked into Carmine's and saw Mike already at work on his first scotch.
- What will you drink? - Mike motioned to the waiter.
- I'll have a Stoli on the rocks. - I said, silently chastising myself for being a chicken to take it like a man, straight up. - Yes, tonight calls for a Stoli.
- Let's order first. - Mike turned to the waiter and recited his selections without opening the menu.
I've eaten here before, but wasn't as well versed in the restaurant's culinary delights as Mike.
I'll have the same. - I announced, containing my excitement of bestowing my treasure upon my agent, my friend, my almost brother.
- Go on. - Mike leaned back in his chair and cradled his whiskey glass. - Sell it to me.
- Here I go. - I took a swig of my drink, vodka, though diluted with ice burned the inside of my throat. - A gave it a tentative title “The Rabbi,” which, of course, could be changed. It starts in the early eighties. A young Jewish boy from a very poor family in a distant town in Belarus realizes early on that he needs to defend himself from the boys who beat him up. His mother makes him take boxing lessons.
- What's his name? - Mike interrupts.
- Name? Oh, yes, Yuri. - I reply, trying not to lose the thread of my spiel. - Yes, Yuri Foreman, just like George. So, our Yuri learns to defend himself and his family. Later, when he is ten, his family moves to Israel, to a poor section of Haifa, and they live there among the Arabs. Our young hero helps his father cleaning offices and works on construction sites. - I pause to gauge Mike's reception. His stare is impenetrable, so I continue. - The family struggles, he goes back to boxing, and finds a Russian trainer. Life is looking up. Yuri wins several tournaments and moves to New York with his trainer.
- Hold on. Tell me, where is this from? - Mike's glass is empty, he asks the waiter for a refill.
- What do you mean from where? It came to me in a dream. The whole thing. - I say and finish my drink. - It gets better, I promise. So Yuri gets to New York and starts training seriously, but something is missing. Meanwhile, he meets a Hungarian model, they fall in love and move in together. - I stop, noticing Mike's smile. - What?
- Nothing, nothing, go on.
- Right. So, there is a split with the trainer, who becomes too demanding. But then, Yuri marries. And, now, together with his wife, they are searching for spirituality. Which, of course, they find in Judaism. Yuri starts learning in a Yeshiva in between his gym sessions. For him it's like exercise for the mind and spirit.
- I stop again, because our salads have arrived, but Mikes waves me on. - So, once he finds his new calling, so to speak, Yuri gains more success, and, finally, becomes a world champion in his weight. He couldn't have done it without Judaism, and so on...
My throat dry, I gulped down a glass of water and waited for Mike to respond.
- Let me see. - He finally said picking up his fork. - You got this all from a dream. - He pricked a cherry tomato and observed it carefully.
- Yes, imagine! This morning, I remembered a dream in the shower in such clear detail, I had to write it all down before I forgot. - I poured myself another glass of water. - What do you think, Mike, be honest.
- Well, it all sounds so real. - He said and cut the tomato in half. - Let me ask you this. Is NPR the station you wake up to in the morning?
- Yes, how did you know? - I asked. - And why do you ask?
- Why do I ask? - Mike placed his fork and knife on the table. - I listened to this same story of yours this morning on NPR.
Our steaks arrived, reminding me that I was a vegetarian.