Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter



Freefall: Chapter 35

Miriam Zakon

Colonel Cohn tells Moe that he needs him to help him understand the codebreaking work going on in Bletchley Park. Moe feels more enthusiastic.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

M oe had carefully wound and set his alarm clock for seven before falling into bed, but there was no need for it; well before dawn he’d been awakened by a smell both tantalizing and completely unexpected.

Liver? What in the world??

This wasn’t the Freed Hotel on Thursday night, with Mrs. Horn and Annie kashering the “leiberlach” for Shabbos. This was wartime England, with rationing in full force. And for heaven’s sake, it was five thirty in the morning!

He moved the heavy blackout curtains slightly and peeked out; all was still and dark. Last night, escorted by a taciturn British army private, he’d walked through the blacked-out streets of Milton Keynes to the house that was to serve as his billet for the duration of this posting. His brain, as he walked into the row house on a small, rather shabby cul-de-sac, seemed as hazy as the London fog he’d heard so much about, his thoughts a mass of disconnected pieces of information, like the intercepted German messages before the BP geniuses had gotten them decoded and analyzed. Amazing, what was going on in that mansion!

It was late, there was just a dim light on in a hallway, and Moe had hardly noticed his surroundings. He had a shadowy impression of a tall, thin man giving him a strong handshake, and a woman’s voice showing him to his room. The bed was comfortable, the summer quilt was cozy — he fell into a deep and dreamless sleep, until wakened by these…

Chicken livers?

He dressed as quietly as he could. Though most of the people he’d seen at Bletchley were in civilian dress, he decided to follow Colonel Cohn’s example, and he put on his uniform. As he made his way in the dark and unfamiliar room, occasionally bumping his knees on an unexpected piece of furniture, his thoughts jumped between the massive amount of information he’d been exposed to yesterday, and the strange doings that seemed to be going on in this dark house right now.

Imagine! The Germans’ Enigma machine, with its rotors and plugboard that made the odds of guessing the right letters when decoding the message something like 150 million million million… what a number…

What is that smell?

And the only way to decode it is by figuring out the settings that the German operators choose every day…

It’s not even six in the morning. Why do I hear people talking?

And that electro-mechanical machine they’re using, that can check tens of thousands of code-breaking possibilities in such a short time. What do they call it? Oh, yes, the bombe. Oh, my goodness, I hear singing. What is going on in this house? He opened his door a crack.

The house was dark, but beneath one door he saw a sliver of light. He could hear a man’s voice, and as he approached he could make out the words and the tune. Voos vet zahn ven Mashiach vet kumen…

Someone in this Alice in Wonderland house was singing a classic Yiddish song about Mashiach.

Related Stories

SisterSchmooze: Special Delivery

Marcia Stark Meth / Emmy Leah Stark Zitter / Miriam Stark Zakon

A box that disappears mysteriously, a truckload of floor tiles that brings back memories, a sandwich...

House of Mirrors: Chapter 11

Rachael Lavon

A photo shoot shows Laylee how people are judged by their appearances. Laylee’s parents invite the f...

Lifetakes: The Traveling Cholent

Rebecca Feldbaum

Then came the Shabbos I spent with a warm Moroccan family, where I realized I was insulting the coup...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.
CAPTCHA
Message


MM217
 
The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"