"I t’s them, isn’t it?” Chaim whispers.

“I think so.” No sense in pretending otherwise. Who are those men? They don’t belong here. Why do they keep showing up at all hours?

“You should tell your father.”

Chaim is right, of course. We’re just kids. If we suspect a grown-up is behaving improperly, then Abba is the one to handle it. But I did tell him once, and he didn’t see anything. “What do you think I should say?” I ask. “He won’t be very impressed if I tell him that we keep seeing these Arabs in our neighborhood. It may be strange, but it’s not illegal. How do we know they don’t have legitimate business here?”

“Maybe we should follow them.”

My heart lurches. “What would be the purpose of that?”

“Well, if we have some idea of what they’re up to, then it won’t sound foolish to someone else. Your father will take you more seriously.”

While I’m thinking about that, the power returns and all the streetlights go on. Chaim and I part the hedge and study the parked cars. “Which car was it?” I ask.

“It was black,” Chaim offers, which isn’t very helpful because most of the cars on this side of the street are black.

“That Toyota seems parked closest to where we were standing, but maybe it was the Mitsubishi in front of it?”

“I’m pretty sure it was a Honda.”

“Why are you guys hiding?” A sudden booming voice makes us both jump like we’d been electrocuted.

“Shimmy Gutman!” I stammer. “What are you doing here?”

“I live here.” Shimmy looks both amused and angry, if that’s possible. “So, who are you hiding from?”

Our heads swivel simultaneously back to the hedge. All the vehicles appear empty.

I turn back to Shimmy and study his face. What’s the worst thing that can happen if we tell him — he’ll laugh at us? So what? And tell the class about it. And tell the whole school and the whole neighborhood. No, telling Shimmy Gutman is not a good idea.

“We’ve gotta go,” I tell him. “Come on, Chaim. It’s late. Our parents are for sure worrying about where we are. I don’t want to get into trouble. Good night, Gutman. See you tomorrow in cheder.”

I push Chaim toward the sidewalk. Shimmy’s eyes are burning a hole in my back. We walk away as fast as is possible without actually running.

At my house, Chaim tells me, “Think about it, Meir. I think we should try it. If we follow them from a distance, why would they notice two kids among the hundreds that live on our street?” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 696)