oledo, Spain

A group of men in black robes walked through the dark, empty streets as rain poured down from the black sky. They stopped outside an old, tiny home at the edge of the city. 

“Well, well, well!” A hunchbacked old man with long white hair grinned as the men in robes entered his home. “It’s not every day that the wealthiest men in Spain visit my humble abode!”

“This isn’t a home, Alvaro!” one of the men responded, throwing back his hood to reveal his disgusted expression. “This is a rat hole!”

“Now, now, don’t insult me, Señor Hernández!” Alvaro chuckled, flicking away a flea that was climbing up his tattered black cloak.  “If you are here then that probably means you need something from me.”

“We do need something from you,” Señor Hernández said begrudgingly. “My friends and I are prepared to pay the right man a huge sum of money if he can deliver what we want.”

“I was never good at guessing games,” Alvaro said, sitting down in a rickety wooden chair as he wrapped his cloak around his skeletal frame. “Tell me what you want.”

“Isn’t he supposed to be some sort of sorcerer?” one of Señor Hernández’s companions asked. “He should be able to figure out why we’re here without us telling him!”

“Okay, then.” Alvaro leaned forward in his chair and stared at the group of men intently. The candle on the table began flickering violently.

“I know why you are here,” Alvaro whispered, his eyes narrowing. “It’s because you want to harm the same people that I want to harm… El Judío! The Jews!”

“Yes!” Señor Hernández said excitedly. “And apparently the rumors are true about you, Señor Alvaro! You can harness the dark powers of impurity!”

“Please.” Alvaro held up a wrinkly hand. “Don’t flatter me. My ego is big enough as it is. What evil do you want me to perform against the Jews?”

“We need something to keep them from roaming around our beautiful city square,” Señor Hernández explained. “There are already laws banning them from roaming around the city at will, but they’ve devised ways to get around undetected. They dress in robes like the ones we are wearing and they blend in with the crowd.”

“Ah, so you need a way to sniff them out!” Alvaro clapped his hands together and stood slowly from his chair. “I have just the thing to help you, but I’m going to need a very handsome payment.”

“We have the money already, Sorcerer,” one of the rich men said, reaching into his pocket and withdrawing a satchel overflowing with shiny coins.

“Ha! For the sorcery I’m about to perform for you, those coins won’t be enough,” Alvaro said, flicking his hand at the satchel.

“Greedy man,” the visitor holding the money growled.

“Maybe I am,” Alvaro sniffed. “But for this problem, I’m going to have to spend a lot of energy helping you. I need at least triple the amount of money you are offering.”

“Fine!” Señor Hernández said impatiently. “But if you don’t solve our problem, we’re going to do much worse to you than simply take back our money. So I’m warning you now, whatever you have up those dirty sleeves has better be really good!”

“Oh, I have something good, alright!” Alvaro cackled evilly. “Just wait here and you’ll soon see.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 721)