C haim came back into the small office, but found himself unable to sit. The stream of Visiting Day traffic — exuberant mothers, tolerant fathers — passed by his window on the way to the bunkhouses. A chubby boy was jumping up and down and excitedly telling his parents, “Ta, Mommy, that’s the basketball court, where I got that basket I told you about on the phone. The one that tied that game? Remember?”
Chaim stood up, walked over to the open window, and listened to the swirl of lively chatter.
“Hey, look, that’s the camp driver, his name is Pinny,” said one boy in a New York Mets cap. “He drove us home from Walmart, but we had to hike there, it was crazy. I felt like I would faint.”
And this, from a father in a light green tennis shirt: “Malky, are there any families we know who send their children here? I don’t recognize a soul.”
Chaim sighed and headed back out. He’d already ditched the neon T-shirt that Yudi had recommended. Yudi had meant well, but Chaim felt like he was wearing a Purim costume.
He looked over to the top of the grassy lawn, where his father-in-law sat in a large Adirondack chair, surrounded by a small crowd of well-wishers. Hershel Levinsky looked a bit tired, but the excitement in his eyes was visible from a distance. Rivky was there, and several of her visiting sisters were flanking their father protectively (as if they took him for walks every day and brought supper to the bungalow when he didn’t have energy to come to the dining room, like Rivky did).
Chananya Singer was standing on the dining room porch, meeting with parents, one pair after another, speaking eagerly, as if he’d been waiting all summer for the opportunity (which might well have been the case, Chaim thought).
Even Shia Langsam seemed to know his place, setting up the tent near the shiur for the steady rotation of Minchah minyanim and arranging cold drinks on the table outside.
Chaim felt frozen, not sure where to put himself.
He knew that he wanted to avoid Barry Penner, who’d spent the last hour walking around with the guy from the Land Rover, Siegel.
Chaim had approached, trying to think of a friendly comment to offset the rough greeting he’d given Mr. Yankees-Cap that morning, but when he came close, he saw Penner mutter something to Siegel.
Chaim had just nodded and smiled, getting the vibe that his presence wasn’t necessary. In the morning, Siegel had made it clear that he wasn’t there to visit anyone, and Chaim had figured he was some sort of vendor, perhaps a new landscaper or contractor.
Now, as Chaim saw Penner standing with Siegel at the edge of the lake, both of them smiling like new mechutanim at a vort, he had a sudden jolt of clarity. Siegel was a buyer. Penner had found someone to take the camp and rid him of his biggest problem.